Good highways, pensions for public employees and children are the latest victims of Gov. Sam Brownback’s $1.1 billion tax-cut blunder.
There will be more victims as the governor and the Kansas Legislature are forced to slash the state budget by hundreds of millions more in coming months, just to make sure the state doesn’t run a deficit in 2015 or 2016.
The income tax cuts backed by the governor and the Republican-dominated Legislature are now hurting real Kansans. Revenues are likely to an astounding $1.1 billion short of predicted expenses in the next 18 months.
Ignore Brownback’s “sun is shining on Kansas” mantra, the one that incredibly helped get him re-elected last month.
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Real damage is being done by the tax cuts now.
The state faces a $280 million budget gap for the current fiscal year, and a $400-million-plus further gap in the next fiscal year, starting July 2015.
As rolled out Tuesday, the governor’s plan — much of it subject to legislative oversight and/or approval — would drain more than $100 million from highway funding in Kansas.
The new Brownback proposal would slice state spending that is supposed to help shore up the pension plans for tens of thousands of not just state but also county and local employees across Kansas. This will be a huge blow to the future financial health of retirement plans for these public workers.
The plan also does not set any kind of good priorities when it imposes across-the-board 4 percent cuts on many state agencies’ budgets.
And the governor envisions moving millions of dollars away from programs designed to help children.
Swift criticism emerged of the budget reductions, but let’s face it: Most people predicted something like this was coming after the governor and the Legislature approved excessive income tax reductions that took effect in early 2013.
Besides budget reductions, the Legislature in 2015 is going to have to stop digging the hole created by the costly tax cuts. Lawmakers need to halt already-planned further reductions in the tax rates.
If that doesn’t happen, Kansas will continue going down the path of being a state that can’t provide high quality services to its residents.