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Ciboski: The Day of Reckoning on Revenue Shortfalls is Near

Sam Brownback has 29 months remaining as governor. Will we see an increase in revenues for the state over that time so that adequate support will be provided for public entities such as K-12 education?

Legislative behavior on revenue issues is not likely to change much with the fall elections for the legislature, but revenue shortages may force a change in legislative behavior. Governor Brownback continues to deny that his tax policies are responsible for the failure to meet projected revenues. Senator Anthony Hensley of Topeka calls the state’s cash shortfall “a self-inflicted fiscal crisis.” He also urged the governor to admit that the 2012 tax policies were a mistake and a failure. Governor Brownback would not do that. Instead, the Governor attributed the failure to meet the revenue estimate for June to economic weakness in what he called the “three-legged stool” of agriculture, oil and gas production, and aviation.

The 2017 legislative session is likely to be ugly. I think the day of reckoning on revenue shortfalls is near. The State Finance Council has approved temporarily borrowing a record $900 million from state idle funds for the next fiscal year. In the future, there will also be less flexibility in taking money from other funds such as transportation, which has already been depleted. Also, the Kansas Supreme Court will likely rule that the funding for K-12 education is not adequate. This could require millions of dollars that the state does not have to fix this problem. The 2017 legislature may well have to confront continuing revenue shortages and work to provide for a more stable and steady source of revenue for the state.

Dr. Ken Ciboski is an associate professor emeritus of political science at Wichita State University.