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Kansas Tax Collections $53 Million Short In February

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Stephen Koranda
/
KPR/File photo

Tax collections in Kansas were more than $50 million short of estimates last month. That puts the state back into a budget deficit. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, the numbers prompted the governor to announce a cut to university budgets.

Kansas came up short on individual income, corporate income and sales tax collections.

The $53 million shortfall eats up the meager $6 million savings account in the budget approved by lawmakers, putting Kansas into a budget hole.

Gov. Sam Brownback argues the drop is caused by economic trends, not the state’s tax policy. 

Republican Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan says lagging agriculture, aircraft and oil industries contributed to the shortfall. Jordan says the state should hold steady on tax policy because he says it’s attracting thousands of small businesses.

“So these are literally people who moved to Kansas, apparently, because they thought this was the best opportunity for them to grow their small business. There’s over 18,000 of those, and they have brought with them over $1 billion in new income,” Jordan says.

Democrats blame the shortfall on what they call Brownback’s “fiscal mismanagement” of the budget. Democratic Sen. Anthony Hensley says he doesn’t buy the governor’s argument. He squarely blames the tax cuts for consistent revenue shortfalls.

“I would hope that he and his allies would come to grips with reality and figure out that we have to bring some sort of budget stability, otherwise we’ll just continue in this downward spiral of an ongoing budget crisis,” Hensley says.

Brownback in a statement says he opposes reinstating income taxes on thousands of business owners. He says the state needs to manage spending, not raise taxes.

He announced a $17 million cut to university budgets for this fiscal year. That’s about 3 percent.

Wichita State University President John Bardo released a statement in response to the cuts and estimates the school will face a spending reduction of about $2 million through June. He said WSU has frozen all non-critical spending.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Radio covering health, education and politics.