Financial Firm Downgrades Kansas’ Rating
May 2, 2014

KC Star:
TOPEKA — Plummeting revenues, underfunded pensions and millions in court-ordered school spending led Moody’s Investors Service on Thursday to cut the state’s credit rating by a notch.

The ratings agency slightly lowered the state’s credit rating because of mounting financial pressure on the Kansas state budget, partly from massive income tax cuts that Republican Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law in 2012 and 2013.

Moody’s dropped the state from its second-highest rating of Aa1 to its third-highest rating of Aa2. Thirteen other states share the same rating as Kansas. Now 29 states have higher ratings. The last state that Moody’s downgraded was Illinois in June.

The rating cut could lead to higher interest rates on state borrowing, but leading lawmakers said Thursday they didn’t believe that would happen.

Some observers feared the downgrade heralds dire financial times after the massive income tax reductions.

“A well-respected and informed entity that looks at whether government operations are sound has just given us a lower grade,” said Bernie Koch, executive director of the Kansas Economic Progress Council, a group made up of chambers of commerce and businesses across the state. “That should be of great concern.”

The dip in the state’s credit rating comes in the wake of sharply dropping revenue figures released Wednesday. Brownback and other state leaders blamed those numbers on economic policies of the Obama administration.

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Kansas Senate Poised for Budget Vote
May 2, 2014

(AP) – Kansas legislators are preparing to take final action on a budget bill that includes raises for state workers and funds to shrink a waiting list of disabled people needing health services.

The Senate is scheduled to vote Friday morning on the bill, which also includes more than $360 million for the Department of Corrections for the fiscal year starting July 1.

Senate passage would send the bill to the House. It’s the last major spending bill standing between legislators and adjournment of the 2014 session.

Negotiators finished the bill Thursday, shaking off the previous day’s report that Kansas collected $92 million less in taxes than expected in April. Republicans blamed changes in the federal tax code.

Kansas Budget Talks Resume Despite Bleak Report
May 1, 2014

(AP) – Kansas legislators negotiating on budget issues are whittling away at their differences after majority Republicans cast aside a bleak revenue report.

Three senators and three House members were resuming talks Thursday on spending for the fiscal year beginning July 1. They hadn’t resolved funding for the state prison system or whether state workers will get a pay raise.

Their work Wednesday was overshadowed by a report from the state Department of Revenue that tax collections for the month totaled $92 million less than expected. Officials cited changes in the federal tax code on capital gains and other income.

But Republicans brushed aside doubts raised by the new figures. They argued that the state’s cash reserves will act as a cushion and any fallout can be dealt with next year.

One Time Tax Payments Boost Kansas Bank Account
February 28, 2014

(AP) – One-time income tax payments totaling more than $50 million helped boost Kansas revenue collections in February ahead of official estimates.

The Kansas Department of Revenue says Friday that overall revenue collections were $97.6 million more than projected. Individual income taxes were $100.7 million more than anticipated, while corporate tax collections were up $4.8 million.

Officials say Kansas collected $329 million in February, beating estimates for $231.4 million. Kansas has collected $3.62 billion in revenues, compared to the $3.5 billion projected for the fiscal year that began July 1.

The gains were partially offset by declines from estimates in sales, use, motor carrier and cigarette taxes and fees

Report Predicts Kansas Court Furloughs Coming Due to State Budget
December 26, 2013

(AP) – A new report says Kansas court employees could face unpaid furloughs as the judicial branch tries to handle an $8.25 million budget shortfall.

A committee appointed by the Kansas Supreme Court in October to look for ways to deal with the shortfall forwarded its recommendations to Chief Justice Lawton Nuss on Dec. 13.

The committee says furloughs would cut $2.5 million from the deficit, and much of the remainder would come from delayed judicial appointments, reduced training hours, eliminating about 20 court service officer positions and leaving more than 100 court positions unfilled in fiscal year 2015.

The Wichita Eagle reports the committee also recommended reducing by $250,000 a grant to Kansas Legal Services, where employees could be forced to take nine furlough days.


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