WICHITA, Kansas – Governor Sam Brownback just came up with his plan to fix the budget for the remainder of this year. He is recommending cuts of $280 million.
“But, that just gets us to zero. Zero on this year,” says Democrat lawmaker Jim Ward of Wichita. “For the budget year that begins in July, we begin the year with that negative $650 Million.”
$648.3 million to be exact. That’s what the balance will be for Kansas on July 1st, according to the Kansas Legislative Research Department.
Ward is talking about the new numbers from the Kansas Legislative Research Department that just came out this week. And Ward is one of several lawmakers who say it may be time to rethink some of the Governor’s tax breaks to businesses handed out in 2012.
“What the Governor did yesterday was smoke and mirrors,” claims Ward. “Other than the real pain, stealing $100 Million from the highways. Hurting KPERS by taking $42 million in payments away. It’s all smoke and mirrors. There are two ways to fix the systemic problem Kansas has. Cut schools or address revenue problems.”
Governor Brownback recommended to cut $42 million out of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement. Another recommendation is to borrow $100 million from the highway fund. Lawmakers will still have to approve the “transfer” of funds to help fix the budget problems for the current year.
“But, what about next year? What comes next may not be pretty,” says Jim. “191,000 Kansans aren’t participating in helping pay income tax. Is that what we want to do going forward? Or, should they be part of the solution? That’s what revenue questions we are talking about. Or should we continue to raise property taxes which is what has been going on for the last four years? Or should we continue to raise sales taxes? Which is what has been going on in various locations across the state for the last couple of years. If we don’t go with that, then we have to go where the money is with K-12 and higher ed, which is 65-cents of every dollar.”
Sam Brownback, meanwhile, says he is sticking with his tax cuts.
“But I am trying to move us to become a lower-income tax state,” says Brownback this week. “Because those generally tend to be the states that grow faster. Because we haven’t been growing.”
The governor also says we need to find a way to get more money into the classrooms, and says schools need to move away from spending more on building structures.