Yael T. Abouhalkah

New gloomy Kansas revenue report will help anti-Brownback candidates

Kansas Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan often tries to put the best possible spin on monthly state revenue numbers, though that task is getting more difficult.
Kansas Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan often tries to put the best possible spin on monthly state revenue numbers, though that task is getting more difficult. The Associated Press

The needed campaign to purge Gov. Sam Brownback’s followers from the Kansas Legislature on Nov. 8 received another positive jolt on Monday.

Unfortunately — as a new gloomy report showed — the fact that the state’s tax revenues are falling far short of expectations is dismal news for right now.

More budget cuts on top of recent ones likely are ahead — to public schools, universities and social services.

It’s crystal clear that voters in Johnson and Wyandotte counties, plus across Kansas, need to elect moderate Republicans and Democrats who have pledged to look at different and better ways to balance the state’s budget.

The results in the August primary were encouraging for moderate GOP officeholders especially. Kansas voters must keep on track to remove from the Legislature as many of Brownback’s sycophants as possible. (Here are some good choices for the Kansas Senate from Johnson County.)

The most important goal will be to repeal the income tax cuts that Brownback and ultra-conservative legislators pushed through in 2012. That action slashed revenues by $650 million a year — more than 10 percent of the annual general fund budget — and the state hasn’t come close to recovering from that reckless action.

On Monday, the state reported that revenues for the month of September fell almost $45 million short of expectations.

For the first three months of the 2016-17 fiscal year, Kansas already is facing a shortfall of revenue vs. expenses of $67 million.

(For comparison’s sake, Kansas fell $31 million short of estimated revenues in September 2015 and were also down $67 million from expectations for the previous fiscal year.)

Oh, and Kansas has basically nothing in the bank to cover that shortfall, which is why budget cuts could be looming.

In other developments Monday:

▪ Brownback released a statement that the working group he asked in June to make recommendations to improve the Consensus Revenue Estimates will release its report at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The group includes bankers, certified public accountants and financial experts.

Great: Now we’ll see if the experts can bring some common sense and more expertise to these guesstimates about how the state’s budget should be performing.

But again, this group won’t having anything to do with raising more money, which is the best way to pay for public services crucial to 3 million Kansans.

▪ Rep. Ron Ryckman, an Olathe Republican and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, told a reporter that lawmakers must be efficient stewards of taxpayer dollars.

And in an email to colleagues Sunday night, he wrote, “While these are difficult questions and challenging times, we should not forget the groundwork that has been laid to begin improving the fiscal outlook. Though the returns will not be immediate, there is hope on the horizon. We have chosen to run for state office because we are ready and willing to face these challenges directly.”

Hope on the horizon? Whom is Ryckman trying to kid?

The state’s employment numbers have been abysmal for more than 18 months.

The revenue figures continue to be weak.

And the state is practically broke, with almost nothing in the general reserve fund.

The state paid for an efficiency study, got the report earlier this year, but the Legislature failed to put in place any major changes to the budget that would either cut services efficiently or raise a lot more money.

Kansans deserve a more responsibly run state government. Electing people who won’t follow the distressing economic policies of Gov. Brownback is one way to reach that desired outcome.

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