Here's a little more info:A report from the Kansas Legislature's nonpartisan research staff is sparking new questions about explanations for recent revenue shortfalls from Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's administration.
The legislative report released Tuesday said the estimates for income tax cuts championed by Brownback in 2012 and 2013 appear to have been understated in the state's official revenue projections.
State tax collections in April and May of this year were $310 million short of the projections. The Department of Revenue has blamed disputes in Washington over federal tax policy that caused investors not to claim capital gains in 2013. - AP, 6/10/14
And Brownback really has no one to blame but himself:Two years ago, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback laid out an aggressive program of tax cuts to turn this slow-growing state into a Texas-like economic powerhouse—and serve as a model for Republican leaders in other states.
So far, the results are serving as more of a warning than a beacon. Employment growth is below the national average, while Kansas faces plunging revenue, dwindling reserves and a rare debt downgrade.
The Republican governor says his policies need time to trickle through the economy and that other states should use his example to show how lower income taxes can spur private-sector expansion. But neighboring states that once thought of keeping pace with Mr. Brownback aren't mimicking the cuts—and are enjoying about the same job growth. Those that have cut taxes have done so more slowly and often with an eye on keeping tax revenue from slipping.
All of that has left Kansas, and Mr. Brownback, as the leading national experiment in using state-level tax cuts to stimulate economic growth.
"Sometimes ideological experiments bring unintended outcomes," said Oklahoma Treasurer Ken Miller, a Republican. "I think Kansas is seeing that, and it serves as a reminder for the rest of us." - Wall Street Journal, 6/10/14
And Kansas Democrats are hitting Brownback on this:One of the report’s authors, however, quickly made it clear that Kansas’ issues are self-inflicted.
“The large declines in Delaware, Kansas and North Dakota are mostly attributable to the legislative changes that cut income tax rates as well as restricted tax brackets,” author and senior analyst at the Rockefeller Institute Lucy Dadayan said. “Of course the fiscal cliff had an impact in almost every state that has income tax. But Kansas is a special case because they had the largest tax cut in their history … and the large tax cuts in income tax is the primary cause of declining revenue.”
Further proving Brownback’s folly, on Tuesday the Kansas Legislative Research Department indicated that some of the fiscal notes associated with the income tax change understated the potential effect on state revenues, in part contributing to the state’s declining revenues.
The governor, however, is trying to craft a two-pronged message – one that simultaneously hopes to shift the blame to federal tax policy while also trying to convince Kansans that it’s really not that bad, that people have more money in their pockets and that employment is booming.
Yet, despite the governor’s promise that his tax plan would be a shot of adrenaline, it really is that bad. Middle-class families aren’t paying less in income taxes, and most are paying more in local property taxes, a direct result of this ill-conceived fiscal plan. Though there have been some job gains because of an improving economy across the country, a deeper examination of the unemployment rate shows that the drop in the unemployment rate is partly attributable to a declining workforce, as people move out of the state or retire. And whatever job growth there might be fails to live up to the governor’s overstated expectations. Kansas is trailing the country and its neighboring states in economic growth, and those numbers come from the governor’s own people tasked with measuring the state’s economic health.
Kansans clearly should see that Brownback’s aggressive alteration of the state’s income tax was an error-plagued plan that is eroding the state’s ability to provide any decent level of service, while also failing to provide any tangible tax relief to the middle-class families that need it the most. - Hutch News, 6/11/14
So what's Brownback to do? Distract voters by going after Obama:Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said the memo reinforced a counter argument that Brownback's tax reform based on supply-side economic theory "played a key role in the recent revenue shortfalls and dismisses the claim that the fiscal cliff is solely to blame."
"This is just one more example of Governor Brownback using false information to deceive Kansans," Hensley said. "It's time for the Brownback administration to take responsibility for their failed experiment and give Kansans the full report on the true causes of this self-imposed fiscal disaster."
Brownback is seeking re-election as governor, while Hensley has endorsed Democratic candidate Paul Davis in the race.
Tax revenue is closely followed in political circles because Brownback predicted slashing individual and business income taxes would work like an adrenaline shot to the heart of Kansas' economy.
Current projections, assuming no spending or tax adjustments by the Legislature, would leave the state with an ending balance of about $50 million in mid-2015.
The state's current and upcoming budget was crafted based on revenue projections last updated in April. Two weeks after the state's Consensus Revenue Estimating Group produced a rosy economic forecast, April revenue plummeted $92 million beneath the projection. Collections in May were $217 million under expectations.
The forecast did call for the state treasury to take in about $300 million less in tax receipts in relation to the previous fiscal year, but losses through the 11th month of this fiscal year were closer to $660 million.
The Legislative Research Department's memo indicated "additional study will be needed to provide updated information for the consensus group in November on the magnitude of the shortfall relative to the most recent estimate — regardless of the reason or combination of reasons that caused the shortfall." - The Topeka Capital-Journal, 6/11/14
Brownback is going to do whatever it takes to dupe voters and tie Davis to Obama. We can't let him fool the voters so we need to be ready come November. Click here to get involved and donate to Davis' campaign:Last week, the Kansas Corporation Commission released a report that attempted to measure how much it has cost Westar Energy and Kansas City Power & Light since 2007 to meet EPA regulations and slash dangerous air emissions from coal-fired power plants.
The current annual bill, the KCC said, is $227 million for the utilities to pay for “capital investments for environmental retrofits.”
That money has done a lot of good. Cleaner air reduces fatalities and health risks linked to pollution-clogged air. The funds also have created jobs for construction workers and companies that make modern equipment to cut emissions.
In his “reality check,” Brownback summed up the KCC findings by saying, “Kansas businesses and families are paying $227 million more a year on electricity bills to pay for the excessive regulation of Obama’s EPA on electricity generation.”
However, Westar and KCP&L were planning at least a decade ago to retrofit their current plants to meet EPA regulations.
For example, retrofits of the LaCygne power plant were being discussed in 2006.
Obama didn’t even take office until January 2008.
Since then, the president has been trying to further strengthen the nation’s air pollution rules.
Just last week, Obama and the EPA unveiled proposed rules that would further slash dangerous emissions. However, they won’t take effect for at least a year and probably more, after the courts get through with them.
Brownback misfires when he says “Obama’s EPA” has caused electricity rates to rise in Kansas.
Yes, those rates are higher. But it’s all part of a positive, multi-year plan to clean up coal-fired plants to benefit almost three million Kansans. - The Kansas City Star, 6/10/14