Yael T. Abouhalkah

Yael T. Abouhalkah: Kansas’ February fiasco is 32nd straight month of dismal income tax revenues

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s individual income tax cuts have sliced into tax revenues for more than two years.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s individual income tax cuts have sliced into tax revenues for more than two years. AP

On Tuesday afternoon, Kansas officials released extremely dismal revenue figures for February.

The state collected $27 million less than expected in individual income tax receipts. Overall tax collections were $54 million below official state predictions.

The new figures wipe out the cash cushion that Gov. Sam Brownback and the Legislature had expected to have for the current fiscal year that ends June 30. More budget cuts likely are ahead.

Most notably: My research shows this was the 32nd straight month that individual income tax receipts — on a cumulative basis in a fiscal year — have been lower than they were before Brownback’s tax cuts took full effect.

My new video helps explain Brownback’s failed plan from 2012 in simple terms. (Bonus video: Why Brownback is wrong on Kansas jobs and unemployment rates.)

On a broader scale, the huge loss of individual income tax revenue is the main reason Kansas does not have adequate funds to properly support schools, roads, public pensions and social programs. The tax cuts also are why the state has blown through more than $700 million in cash reserves and is down to basically $0 in reserves.

In short, despite Brownback’s delusions that the tax cuts aren’t causing fiscal ills for Kansas, they are.

Here’s a deeper look at the issue.

I reviewed state documents to see how individual income tax revenues had flowed in before and after the tax cuts.

The last time the state had collected more in those income taxes than a previous year was June 30, 2013, when Kansas had taken in $2.931 billion for the entire 2012-13 fiscal year.

That was more than the $2.908 million collected in the 2012-13 fiscal year that ended June 30, 2012.

Starting with July 2013 and every month since then — 31 months and counting through January 2016 — Kansas individual income tax receipts were below the corresponding month in the previous fiscal year, on a cumulative basis.

Take a look at the sad month-by-month comparison, beginning with July 2013 figures that marked the start of a new fiscal year.

July 2013: $164 million vs. $205 million in July 2012

August 2013: Year-to-date total of $322 million vs. $396 million through August 2012

September 2013: $575 million vs. $710 million

October 2013: $762 million vs. $936 million

November 2013: $920 million vs. $1.141 billion

December 2013: $1.149 billion vs. $1.430 billion

January 2014: $1.418 billion vs. $1.796 billion

February 2014: $1.534 billion vs. $1.803 billion

March 2014: $1.644 billion vs. $1.926 billion

April 2014: $1.870 billion vs. $2.379 billion

May 2014: $2.013 billion vs. $2.692 billion

June 2014: $2.218 billion vs. $2.931 billion

Over 12 months, the state had collected $713 million less of individual income taxes than in the prior fiscal year.

The woeful cycle started over again in July 2014.

Again, the year-to-date individual income tax revenue totals through the entire 2014-15 fiscal year for the state were lower than the figures that had been posted in the 2012-13 fiscal year.

Over 12 months, Kansas took in $653 million less in individual income taxes that fiscal year than in 2012-13.

And the cycle began repeating itself in July 2015, the start of the current fiscal year.

The year-to-date totals of income tax receipts through February 2016 have all been lower than the totals for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

Overall, Kansas was a cumulative $395 million lower in February 2016 than it was in February 2013.

Brownback long ago emptily promised that his 2012 tax cuts would create jobs and bring in more income taxes.

But February’s revenue numbers kept the state’s long and dubious losing streak alive when it comes to properly funding public services.

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