Kansas budget cuts

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Back in 2012 when voters swept a wave of Tea-Party Republicans into power, Oklahoma lawmakers looked admiringly to their neighbor to the north. Gov. Sam Brownback and his fellow Kansans had begun drastically cutting taxes in expectation that the move would result in a windfall of state revenue.

It is not hyperbole to say the challenges that members of the 2017 Kansas Legislature face are among the most daunting in state history.

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Kansas was recently featured in a New York Times piece criticizing the state for its budget shortfall resulting from the biggest tax cuts in Kansas history.

As expected, the Kansas Supreme Court on Thursday morning ruled that the state’s school funding formula is inadequate under the Kansas Constitution.

In a unanimous 83-page decision, the court gave the Legislature until June 30 to address the state’s public education financing system.

The decision comes after the court ruled earlier that the school funding formula had failed to meet the equity prong of the Kansas Constitution.

KCUR

  The Kansas House approved a tax bill Wednesday that would raise Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature tax cuts.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the proposed bill would include an end to a tax cut for roughly 330,000 business owners and generate more than $1 billion over the next two years, according to state estimates.

But Brownback said he won’t sign the bill if it makes it to his desk.

aviper2k7 / Wikimedia Commons

On Tuesday A Kansas senate panel moved to cut $128 million from K-12 education and $23 million dollars from higher education to help fill the state’s three hundred and ten million dollar budget shortfall.  

As The Hutch News reports, the Senate ways and Means Committee approved the cuts, which would take place this fiscal year, as part of a larger budget bill that also reduces funding to state agencies.

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Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback wants to increase taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, among other things, to fill the state’s $378 million budget shortfall.

As The Kansas City Star reports, Shawn Sullivan, Brownback’s budget director, presented the governor’s tax and budget proposals to lawmakers yesterday.

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In his State of the State address last night, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback talked about the state budget, Medicaid, the need for additional medical and dental care, and school funding, among other things.

Brownback said Budget Director shawn Sullivan would be presenting a "structurally balanced budget" today that Brownback described as balanced, in that it reconciles spending with available revenue and supports the core functions of state government.

Brownback also called for lawmakers to address the imbalance between state revenues and expenditures.

The highly criticized supply-side tax cuts in Kansas that have resulted in a $350 million-deficit in the current fiscal year’s budget are front and center in the legislative budget debate.

KCUR

 Gov. Sam Brownback cut Medicaid reimbursements by 4 percent earlier this year, as part of budget cuts aimed at covering the revenue shortfall in Kansas, and legislators see restoration of that cut as a top priority going into the next session.

Kansas advocacy groups are pushing for tax increases to fix the state’s budget.

According to the Kansas Health Institute (KHI), groups representing children, teachers, state workers, contractors, and others are proposing a tax overhaul that would reinstate income taxes on hundreds of thousands of businesses and raise the top income tax rate. 

Bo Rader / Wichita Eagle

The State of Kansas has enough money on reserve to last for a total of two days, according to a new study by Pew Charitable Trusts.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, if the Sunflower State had to exist solely on its cash reserves, the state wouldn’t last more than 48 hours. In 2012 and 2013, Gov. Sam Brownback urged GOP lawmakers to slash taxes. Ever since then, Kansas has struggled to balance its budget.

Thad Allton / Topeka Capital-Journal

Just how much is the Kansas budget crisis hurting individual Kansans? According to a recent report, every Kansas taxpayer carries a $6,500-a-person tax burden. By comparison Nebraska, Kansas’s neighbor to the north, which did not slash taxes, boasts a surplus of $3,500 per taxpayer.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

In Kansas, tax revenues for the month of August came in more than $10 million short of expectations, according to the Kansas Department of Revenue.

That means, notes The Lawrence Journal-World, in order to balance the state budget Gov. Sam Brownback may need to order more spending cuts.

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This June, Kansas revenue collections fell approximately $33 million short of estimates, reports The Hays Daily News.

June marks the conclusion of a financially disastrous fiscal year for the Sunflower State. Over the past year, Kansas took in more than $100 million less than anticipated. Revenue sources have slumped—and, in some cases, plunged—during the past year.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Kansas officials have borrowed a record $900 million from the state’s investment fund but still may need to implement a series of emergency measures to end the 2016 budget year in the black.

Topeka Capital-Journal/AP

Sam Brownback is making some powerful enemies in his own state, reports The Topeka Capital-Journal. Four former Kansas governors have formed a political group to raise opposition to the policies of the current governor and his allies in the Kansas House and Senate. The effort is known as the Save Kansas Coalition. Former governors Bill Graves, Mike Hayden, Kathleen Sebelius and John Carlin have all sent out letters to potential donors to fund the effort.

Orlin Wagner / AP photo

A week after the New York Times editorial board took Oklahoma to task for the state’s failure to avoid a $1.3 billion—thus leaving the poorest in the state holding the bill—the Times has now put Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax policies in the crosshairs. The paper’s editorial, “Kansas Schools, Victims of Bad Tax Policy,” minced no words.

KHI news service

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Budget cuts to the Kansas Water Office should not result in any layoffs but could delay some reservoir maintenance projects, the head of the office said this week.

Nick Krug / LJWorld.com

Even amid a budget crisis, struggling public schools and rural hospital closures, the Kansas GOP legislature and Governor Sam Brownback continue to double down on their tax-cutting strategies. On Wednesday, the state slashed projections for tax collections by another $348 million.

The Atlantic

Our nation’s economy is strong. But states like Oklahoma and Kansas still find themselves struggling. Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas is slashing K-12 money, leaving schools underfunded. Oklahoma has declared a “revenue failure,” which means the state has been forced to cut spending across the board. Why are these states having so many problems when the country’s economy seems stable?

A how-to recipe from the Huffington Post on how to create a teacher shortage following the Sunflower State example.