Kansas legislators (and the people who make the state’s revenue projections) need to share whatever it is they’re smoking with the rest of us, because we could sure use a buzz.
House members completed debate last week resulting in a budget that projects a more than $80 million cushion at the end of fiscal year 2012, but to date, their projections have been seriously flawed.
The Kansas Department of Revenue reported March’s collections were $19.4 million lower than state officials initially projected. Oops.
State officials blamed the decline on accelerated state income tax refunds due to electronic filing, but there’s another fly in the ointment. Sales tax revenues also declined. We’re shocked considering the 1 cent sales tax increase legislators passed last year to bandage this year’s budget gaps.
After the release of March’s numbers, the state has $26 million less than it intended to have at this time for the current fiscal year. To realign this year’s budget with last year’s projections, the state will need to collect revenues two times faster in the next three months than it has in the past nine.
That seems unlikely. Without the increased clip in revenues, state officials can kiss the House’s projected $80 million surplus in fiscal year 2012 goodbye.
With a freshman class of more than 30 newby Republicans in the House, voters expected further cuts and less growth in state spending. Instead, we’re looking at a budget that spends $800 million more than officials spent in 2010, according to an article in Forbes Magazine.
Even more discouraging is the vote on a budget amendment that would’ve frozen spending at 2011 levels in the 2012 budget. It was a massive failure, 107-8.
Kudos to those eight representatives, including Rep. Mike Kiegerl who represents Gardner, Edgerton and Spring Hill, for listening to their constituents and attempting to stem the tide of government growth. The others deserving of high praise are Dan Collins, R-Plainville; Jana Goodman, R-Leavenworth; Connie O’Brien, R-Lansing; Charlotte O’Hara, R-Overland Park; Owen Donohue, R-Shawnee; Kasha Kelley, R-Arkansas City; and Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe.
Apparently there are only eight legislators in the Kansas House who are thinking clearly. To the rest, we must ask: What are you smoking?