Editorials

Blame Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax cuts for revenue woes in Kansas

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback wrongly blamed President Barack Obama’s policies for the state’s huge drop in individual income tax revenues this spring. The real culprit was a huge tax cut approved by Brownback.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback wrongly blamed President Barack Obama’s policies for the state’s huge drop in individual income tax revenues this spring. The real culprit was a huge tax cut approved by Brownback. File photo

Earlier this year, Gov. Sam Brownback claimed that Kansas’ alarming tax revenue shortfall was President Barack Obama’s fault.

“The failed economic policies of the Obama administration are affecting states throughout the nation,” Brownback said after Kansas took in $93 million less than expected in April. The state later ended the fiscal year in June more than $300 million below estimates.

But a new national report from the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government clearly shows that the excessive, Brownback-supported tax cuts were to blame for much of the state’s lower-than-predicted revenues.

The study says many states took in slightly less revenue from April through June of this year vs. the same period in 2013. Federal policies did contribute to revenue reductions.

Kansas suffered by far the largest decline in overall year-over-year receipts — a fall of 21.9 percent. The U.S. average drop was only 1.7 percent.

The institute said Kansas’ decline was “mostly attributable to legislated tax changes.” The state had a stunning 42.9 percent reduction in individual income tax revenue in the April-June period compared with a year earlier. The national decline was just 7.1 percent.

While a Kansas shortfall was expected because of the tax cuts, it was far more than the Division of the Budget and the Kansas Legislative Research Department had estimated just a week before the alarming April numbers came out.

At that time, in fact, the groups optimistically had increased estimates for overall state tax revenues for 2014 by more than $100 million. That was way off base.

The Brownback administration has looked clueless during much of the debate over revenue estimates. Blaming Obama was misleading and wrong. Brownback’s tax cuts remain the real culprit behind Kansas’ battered budget.

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