December 16, 2016

This week members of “Rise Up Kansas” sat down with members of the Kansan staff to talk about comprehensive tax reform. Since the plan the organization has written was put forward, it has offered fodder for reporters and editors, not to mention politicians, statewide.

For good reason.

The state budget is crashing – for a myriad of reasons. Month after month revenue projections are missed. There have been nine straight rounds of budget cuts to try and deal with the consistent budget deficit. In addition, fund sweeps and one-time fixes have been used repeatedly. The governor and the legislature have used the Bank of KDOT like an ATM machine to prop up the general fund.

It is obvious that some serious reform is needed in Topeka. The state budget has systemic problems that must be fixed.

There will be no single magic bullet that can fix the problem. While comprehensive tax reform is needed, we suspect that alone will not fix all that ails the state budget. It is obvious that the state can not cut its way to prosperity – round after round of those kinds of adjustments have not brought us out of the hole. Similarly, the state can not simply tax its way to prosperity, either.

The LLC exemption has been a lighting rod as of late, and closing that down is part of Rise Up Kansas’ plan. However that point alone will not get Kansas where it needs to go – something authors of the Rise Up Kansas plan freely admit and point out.

The five-point plan brought forward comes at the right time – before the legislature meets and against the backdrop of another missed revenue projection and needed budget adjustments. The governor and the legislature must start looking at the long-term, rather than simply the current fiscal pickle. If they don’t, this will never get truly fixed.

We have no delusions that Rise Up Kansas’ plan will be adopted by leadership. We are talking about leadership that has clung to the “glide to zero” as its signature legislation.

But one thing is clear. Kansans need to be talking about comprehensive reform in Topeka. Both taxes, and spending.

Read more from the Newton Kansan here.

Lisa OwenNEWTON KANSAN: The budget needs fixin’