Martin Hawver
Guest columnist
Somewhere, we presume, there was a New Year’s Eve party last weekend, when the state said goodbye to old man Fiscal Year 2012 and welcomed in baby Fiscal Year 2013.
Well, if you missed the party, or maybe partied so hard that you aren’t clear on the details of just what you did and just hope nobody was taking pictures with a cell phone, the change was for most Kansans pretty low-key.
The biggest change we saw was what happened last year for the most important piece of state government—its bank account, which people who don’t get out enough refer to as the State General Fund.
That’s where your tax dollars go.
Just a day before the Saturday night party was getting wild, it was learned that the state took in $6.008 billion of your tax dollars. That made it a year worth celebrating. The previous year the state took in just $5.543 billion in taxes, so revenues grew by $465 million or 8.4 percent in only one year.
Oh, and at last year’s party, when we said goodbye to Fiscal Year 2011, and believed that the snacks were better, the state celebrated receipt of that $5.543 billion which topped the previous year’s $4.858 billion. That was the real growth year, and someone probably marked the doorframe to show the growth of the State General Fund by an amazing $685 million or 14.1 percent.
OK, OK, there was no party either year…at least that most of us heard about.
But we did learn at the end of June what’s happening to the economy of the state. Last year, for example, Kansans paid $2.9 billion in individual income taxes, which was $198 million more than the previous year. That means Kansans apparently had better paychecks than the year before.
Or, more Kansans had paychecks, as we are coming out of the recession, or maybe those with paychecks just got bigger paychecks, and those people without paychecks still didn’t have paychecks. It’s all pretty complicated at that level of economic analysis.
But, no matter who got it, it meant that there was more money circulating in Kansas, and that can’t be bad.
Kansans spent that extra money they earned last year on things that they paid sales tax on. That’s a pretty good ruler to use on measuring how Kansans are getting along.
In good old Fiscal Year 2012, which ended at midnight Saturday, Kansans paid a total of $2.136 billion in sales taxes. That’s $171 million more than the year before, for an 8.7 percent increase.
That’s important because of what is subject to sales taxes. It is actual stuff you buy and carry out of the stores or drive off the car lots. It’s not payments on mortgages or credit cards, or buying stocks or bonds or houses; it is actual goods being bought.
That means Kansans had more money to spend. That isn’t a bad thing for the state, or the people who make a living selling that stuff that you paid sales taxes on, or even the folks who bought stuff…as long as it worked.
Happy Fiscal 2013, everyone!
Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report—to learn more about this statewide political news service, visit the website at www.hawvernews.com.