Yael T. Abouhalkah

New Kansas revenue figures reveal same old sorry story: Sam Brownback’s tax cuts aren’t working

Gov. Sam Brownback keeps waiting for public revenues to surge after he approved income tax cuts in 2012.
Gov. Sam Brownback keeps waiting for public revenues to surge after he approved income tax cuts in 2012. The Associated Press

The latest Kansas revenue figures released Tuesday afternoon did not deliver encouraging news.

Gov. Sam Brownback’s much-hyped income tax cuts — now in place for more than 30 months — are not leading to any surge in public revenues for the Sunflower State.

Instead, the state collected $6.4 million less in August than consensus revenue experts had expected. That’s 1.5 percent below predictions made just a few months ago.

Keep in mind that’s on top of the $4.4 million shortfall that occurred in July.

Summed up: In the first two months of the 2016 fiscal year, Kansas is $10.8 million below its expected tax revenues.

That’s a 1.3 percent miss. While that may not sound like a lot, keep going at that rate for the full fiscal year, and Kansas’ shortfall would exceed $70 million on a nearly $6 billion revenue estimate.

That kind of failure would nearly wipe out the reserve fund that Kansas lawmakers and Brownback cobbled together in recent months.

Most notably, that fund included tens of millions of dollars in last-minute budget cuts that Brownback had to put in place after the Legislature decided it couldn’t slice enough spending to create a large enough reserve package.

Why does this matter?

If Kansas revenues don’t meet expectations, Brownback at some point will be pressed to eliminate even more state spending. That could come from schools, social services or other basic public amenities provided by state tax dollars.

Overall, the state continues every month to take in tens of millions of dollars less in revenue than it once did, thanks to the 2012 tax cuts pushed by Brownback and the GOP Legislature.

And those tax cuts still haven’t created anywhere near the “shot of adrenaline” that Brownback said they would inject into the state economy.

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