Yael T. Abouhalkah

Jobs plummet in Kansas at worst possible time for Gov. Sam Brownback amid budget crisis

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is having a tough time getting enough tax revenue from new jobs to plug the leaks caused by his costly tax breaks since 2013.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is having a tough time getting enough tax revenue from new jobs to plug the leaks caused by his costly tax breaks since 2013. The Associated Press

The new jobs report released Friday contained all-around horrible news for Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, the Legislature and Kansans themselves.

▪ Total nonfarm jobs in April fell by 2,300 over March.

▪ Total private sector jobs plummeted by 2,900 for the month.

▪ Kansas actually has now lost 300 total nonfarm jobs in the first four months of the year.

▪ The state’s usually rock-solid unemployment rate went up to 4.3 percent in April.

▪ Finally, over a longer time period, Kansas has gained only 11,300 total nonfarm jobs in the last 12 months. That’s an average of fewer than 1,000 a month — far short of the 2,000-a-month pledge that Brownback is hoping for in private sector employment.

All of this information comes at a time when the Legislature is desperately trying to close a $400 million revenue gap in the proposed budget.

Brownback and his supporters have long claimed that the income tax cuts they approved in 2012, and which took effect in January 2013, would create lots of revenue for the state.

That’s obviously not happening.

Instead, the tax cuts have created an $800 million hole in the budget. The Legislature is filling that hole by diverting funds from highways and — in meetings this week and next — will try to pass a wide range of tax increases on gas, liquor, cigarettes and other goods.

Overall, job growth in Kansas continues to trail the national average, even on a longer term basis.

Since December 2012, total Kansas nonfarm employment has grown 2.9 percent through April 2015.

But for the same period, total U.S. nonfarm jobs have gone up 4.6 percent through this April.

So there’s no “shot of adrenaline” coming from the tax cuts in the Sunflower State.

The easiest way to balance the Kansas budget and put the state back on firmer financial footing remains the simplest one: Rescind the costly cuts hastily approved in 2012.

To reach editorial page columnist Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Twitter @YaelTAbouhalkah.

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