Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax cuts keep delivering bad news to residents and the Legislature.
What does that mean? More tax increases or slashes in state services are ahead.
The March revenue report showed that Kansas collected $11 million less than predicted.
For the year, the state is now $48 million — or 1.2 percent — behind what the experts had prognosticated in November, when the state had to further lower its revenue estimates for the 2015 fiscal year that ends June 30.
State officials, as usual, spun the report as containing good news, which it did to this degree: Income tax revenue was almost $9 million higher than predicted.
However, for the year, the figure is an astounding $86 million less than what the state had expected for 2015.
That means income tax collections are down another 5.2 percent from 2014, when they were down more than 20 percent from the previous year.
What has that meant?
The state Legislature has been scrambling all year to find ways to plug huge gaps in the budget. Sin tax increases for booze and cigarettes were proposed in Brownback’s budget. The state wants to divert hundreds of millions of dollars from road repair funds to shore up the general fund. Lawmakers are close to a plan that would reduce payments to the state’s pension fund.
And in the biggest move, the Legislature has approved and Brownback has signed a school block grant fund that reduces total spending for the classroom for dozens of districts across the state.
The latest news brought this response from one legislator.
“It makes you wonder if there isn’t going to be a revision downward to some small extent,’ said House Taxation Committee Chairman Marvin Kleeb, an Overland Park Republican. “It means we're going to have to take a look at a revenue piece of it and see if we have to add a little bit more.”
In other words, the state is going to want more money from its residents.
So much for the “let the people keep more in their pocket” attitude that’s supposed to drive Republicans.
The 2012 tax cuts continue to roil the state’s finances, and there’s very little Brownback and the Legislature can do about it without taking the obvious step of boosting the income tax cut to restore state services to residents.