Yael T. Abouhalkah

Sam Brownback lied to Kansans about new school funding cuts

In happier times for the kids of Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback visited Rushton Elementary School in Mission in 2012, before his excessive tax cuts took effect.
In happier times for the kids of Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback visited Rushton Elementary School in Mission in 2012, before his excessive tax cuts took effect. The Kansas City Star

Put it simply and factually: On Thursday, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback lied to kids and educators throughout the state when he announced $44.5 million in cutbacks for higher education and K-12 schools.

Here’s what Brownback said in the first paragraph of the media notice:

“As a result of lower-than-expected sales tax revenue, Governor Sam Brownback today announced additional allotments to address a projected budget shortfall.”

In another statement Thursday, he blamed the sales tax shortfall on slow holiday sales.

But here are the facts about what really caused the education cuts (Hint: it’s the excessive income tax cuts that Brownback and the Legislature approved in 2012), all culled from Kansas Department of Revenue figures.

▪ Yes, sales tax revenue is down $13 million for the first seven months of the current fiscal year, through January.

▪ However, personal income tax revenues — some of the taxes that Brownback and his allies slashed in 2012 — already are $23 million lower than expected in predictions made just a week after the governor won re-election in November.

Add in the fact that corporate taxes are down $19 million, and those Kansas income tax receipts are $42 million lower than predicted through January — or more than three times the reduction in sales tax collections.

But there’s more.

▪ Sales tax revenue for the current fiscal year, compared to the previous year through January, is actually up by $27 million.

▪ Meanwhile, individual income tax receipts for the current fiscal year have plunged by $90 million.

In summary, the continued fall in income taxes — because of actions taken by Brownback and the GOP controlled Legislature — is causing the school funding cutbacks.

Brownback knows all this. That’s why I don’t think his statement on Thursday was simply an attempt to, say, mislead people.

On purpose, he lied about the obvious facts staring him in the face, as supplied by his own state agency.

Brownback should admit that income tax revenues are tumbling downhill because of his actions and do something about it before school funding falls off even more.

The easiest way out: restore the income tax rates to previous levels.

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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