After tax cuts, waiting for ax to fall on Kansas programs
The Kansas City Star
Gov. Sam Brownback and his team are taking the first steps to prepare for financial Armageddon and a bleaker future for Kansas.
So his administration gets a few points for belated candor. At least it’s coming to grips with the reality that the income tax cuts passed by the Legislature and signed into law earlier this year are going to create significant budget problems.
Brownback’s budget team recently told state agencies to show how they could cut 10 percent out of their requests for funding in 2013. Budget Director Steve Anderson said Kansas needed to “require prioritization of programs, consolidation of resources and consideration of alternatives to current organizational structures, funding streams and outdated ways of doing business.”
Let us translate: It’s time to slash and burn because Kansas soon could run out of money.
Democrats immediately pounced on the budget directive, and who could blame them? As they noted, the tax cuts will help many corporations and wealthy individuals, while threatening “seniors, the disabled and public safety,” as House Minority Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence put it.
Kansans never should have been put in this spot, where tax revenues could dry up so dramatically that the state has to slash public funding for schools, social services and other crucial programs.
The Legislature’s own research staff said the shortfall could reach $2.5 billion over the next six years. The state would lose tax revenues of $4.5 billion, but not come close to making that back up — even though Brownback and his backers claim the tax cuts will stimulate the economy.
The Brownback administration brushed aside criticism of the proposed budget cuts, too. A spokeswoman said the state was just getting ready “should something happen to the country and world economies that are beyond our control.”
Actually, the real problem is that Brownback and the Legislature didn’t make the right moves when it came to an issue that was not “beyond their control.” They acted rashly and approved excessive tax cuts that could cripple Kansas for years.