October 7, 2015
Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday ruled out further tax increases and said he isn’t looking to cut spending as revenue estimates suggest Kansas is heading toward a low end balance.
On Oct. 1, the administration said during the first three months of the fiscal year the state had collected about $61 million less than expected in taxes, or about $42 million less if other revenue sources are taken into account.
A budget deal passed by lawmakers this past June is supposed to provide a positive ending balance of about $77 million. But missed revenue estimates eat into that end balance.
If revenue continues to underperform estimates, steps will have to be taken to keep the state’s budget balanced.
Brownback indicated little interest in raising taxes when speaking with reporters.
“We’re studying everything. I’m not for raising taxes,” Brownback said.
As he continued speaking, he also appeared to downplay the possibility of allotments. He said he met with officials from the Department of Revenue on Tuesday to look at what is happening and watch the situation closely.
Brownback said no decisions had been made.
“I’m really not looking at allotments. We’ll try to figure a way through it. I think we’ll be able to,” Brownback said.
The governor’s comments come after Kansas took in 5.7 percent less than estimated during September. Revenue totaled $523.8 million for the month, about $13.2 million more than collected in September 2014, yet still below estimates.
Kansas collected $7.5 million less than expected in corporate income. Individual income tax receipts fell $12.2 million short of estimates.
Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, said that without raising taxes or cutting spending, few other options existed beyond fund transfers.
“It would not be just me — there are others on the other side of the aisle that also recognize the chances of getting through this fiscal year without more cuts if we don’t do something to turn things around, it’s inevitable,” Kelly said.
Annie McKay, director of the Kansas Center for Economic Growth, and also a registered lobbyist, said Brownback’s comments were indications policymakers had yet to wrap their arms around the reality of the state’s budget and tax situation. McKay has been a consistent critic of the 2012 tax cuts.
“To me, that indicates they’re very much anchored to the fantasy that brought us into this place in the first place,” McKay said.
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