Yael T. Abouhalkah

Dismal budget news just blocked out the sun in Gov. Sam Brownback’s Kansas

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has been waiting all year for tax revenues to come in as expected.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has been waiting all year for tax revenues to come in as expected. AP

Sorry, Gov. Sam Brownback, but the sun just stopped shining in Kansas. Again.

Officials announced Tuesday afternoon that state revenues fell $22.5 million short of expectations in June.

That’s a hefty drop of 4.1 percent below what experts had said would flow into state coffers in that month.

Once again, the long-vaunted income tax cuts of Brownback have failed to bring in a substantial amount of new revenues to Topeka. (They also have failed to create the long-promised surge in jobs, but that’s another story.)

And the news doesn’t get better looking at another figure released Tuesday.

For the 2015 fiscal year that ends June 30, state officials say Kansas will have collected $33 million less than predicted just a few short months ago.

One might think that a $33 million “miss” might not be a big deal in a $5.6 billion general fund budget.

But this is Kansas, where every buck counts, and the state budget is running on fumes.

Brownback’s administration tried to pump up the news on Tuesday that income tax revenues were higher in fiscal year 2015 than in 2014.

Here are the numbers:

▪ $2.278 billion vs. $2.218 billion, or up less than 3 percent.

However, here’s how much the state collected in income taxes in the two fiscal years before the tax cuts took full effect:

▪ $2.931 billion in fiscal year 2013 and $2.908 billion in 2012.

That’s right: The state just took in $653 million less than it did just two years ago in income taxes.

Overall, the decline may put more pressure on Brownback to make sure the budget stays balanced in the next fiscal year.

Already, he was going to have to slice $50 million from the next budget — and that was after the state passed the largest tax increase in history, including a rise in the sales tax from 6.15 percent to 6.50 percent.

When the Legislature approved the 2016 budget that takes effect Wednesday, it created a very small balance of “rainy day funds,” which are supposed to tide the state through the year if revenues fall short of expectations.

Guess what?

Based on what happened in the last 12 months, those revenues may continue to not meet the guesstimates put forth by officials.

The bottom line is that the state’s budget troubles got worse on Tuesday, and more trouble is probably ahead.

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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