Lawmakers react to governor’s State of the State address

State of the State 2017

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – The governor offered some thoughts in his annual State of the State address on how to balance the budget. Some lawmakers say they wanted more specifics.

“We really did not get much in the way of how we are going to fix the structural tax problems we have,” said House Minority Leader Jim Ward . “If you look at the budget over the past five years, it’s a structural problem caused by the tax loopholes. And we need to fix them.”

The governor said lawmakers need to look at efficiencies before reinstating taxes to businesses that were given in 2012.

“And we owe it to Kansas taxpayers to find those efficiencies again, before asking for more revenue,” said Governor Brownback. “That’s why my budget adopts recommendations from the efficiency study commissioned by the legislature.”

That efficiency study is going to be looked at in committees in Topeka, starting this week. But, some say efficiencies are not the only solution to a massive Kansas budget problem.

Tax breaks were handed out by lawmakers in 2012, at the prompting of Governor Brownback. Some Republican lawmakers say those tax breaks have cost the state more than $200 million a year and counting.

“Will the tax breaks be on the table for raising revenue? Of course. Everything is on the table,” said Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle . “We will look at everything.”

The governor has pushed lawmakers over the last two legislative sessions to keep the tax breaks in play, because he says it will offer small businesses incentives to hire more people.

And, in his State of the State, the governor eluded that he will push hard again to keep those tax breaks in place.

“As a state, we have pioneered new ground on small business policy,” said Governor Brownback. “Kansas was the first state in the nation to pass such a small-business tax policy focused on lifting the income tax burden from job creators.”

On Wednesday, Brownback’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, will brief lawmakers on the budget. Some lawmakers say we need to find at least $1 billion over the next 18 months.

“Well, we have to find about $350 million right now, in this current budget year and then we have more next year to figure out,” said Senate President Wagle. “So, it’s a serious task we have ahead.”