Kansas Senators Start to Talk of Tax Money Solutions
April 28, 2016

(AP) – Three Republican senators are proposing a bill to reinstate income taxes for more than 330,000 Kansas business owners.

The Senate Tax Committee reviewed the proposal Thursday as lawmakers try to address the state’s $290 million budget deficit in an election year.

State budget officials say reinstating the tax on farmers and business owners would bring in an estimated $170.6 million in fiscal year 2017. The bill would tax 70 percent of their income.

The Wichita Eagle reports (http://bit.ly/1SvNGDR ) business groups strongly oppose reversing the tax exemption. Democrats and others say the bill doesn’t go far enough to solve the state’s budget problems.

Gov. Sam Brownback proposed the tax exemption as part of a package slashing personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013, which he said would stimulate the state’s economy.

Kansas Lawmakers Have a Full Plate
April 27, 2016

(AP) – Kansas lawmakers must close shortfalls in the current and next state budgets totaling $290 million after returning from their annual spring break.

The Legislature was reconvening Wednesday morning. It was only a week after state officials and university economists issued new, more pessimistic forecast that slashed revenue projections through June 2017.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback plans to divert highway funds to general government programs and delay major road projects. He also expects to cut higher education spending.

He’s proposed selling off part of the state’s annual payments from a national legal settlement with tobacco companies to generate a one-time infusion of cash.

Lawmakers have been cold to the idea. As alternatives, he’s suggested delaying contributions to public employee pensions or making $139 million in spending cuts.

Kansas Slashes Revenue Estimates
April 20, 2016

Kansas budget officials dropped their projection on how much money the state will take in in the next 16 months.

The Consensus Revenue Estimating group reduced their project by 228.6 million.
That could put the state in a budget hole, based on the state budget Kansas lawmakers passed earlier this year.

A statement from Governor Sam Brownback’s office says any solution in the soon-to-start wrap-up session of lawmakers will not include a tax increase on small business or any other Kansas.

The budget shortfall will be a major topic when lawmakers return to Topeka next week for what is supposed to be a brief wrap-up session.

Brownback Defends Budget Shift from Childhood Money
January 19, 2016

AP) – Gov. Sam Brownback’s office is defending a budget proposal that a child advocate says would make it easier for Kansas to siphon money from early childhood education.
The Topeka Capital-Journal (http://bit.ly/1P3Izc9 ) reports that Brownback unveiled last week a state budget that would shift the entire Children’s Initiatives Fund to the State General Fund in fiscal year 2017.
The governor’s office says the move is meant to increase accountability and consolidate early childhood programs within the Kansas State Department of Education, which education commissioner Randy Watson says sought the change to better coordinate initiatives.
Shannon Cotsoradis, CEO of Kansas Action for Children, said she does not see how the move leads to better coordination.
The governor’s spokeswoman, Eileen Hawley, said existing childhood programs funded by the Children’s Initiatives Fund will be continued to be fully funded.

Brownback Offers Plan to Fill a $190 Million Hole
January 13, 2016

AP) — Kansas can patch the $190 million hole in its next state budget by juggling state funds, capturing unexpected savings and selling off the assets of an economic development agency, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback told lawmakers Wednesday.

Brownback’s proposed changes in the $16 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 avoid cutting aid to public schools. But his recommendations did not include pay raises for corrections officers at state prisons or a plan to help the Kansas Highway Patrol fill vacant trooper positions — ideas that have bipartisan support.

The state has struggled to balance its budget since Brownback successfully pushed the GOP-dominated Legislature to slash personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 in an effort to stimulate the economy. His critics contend his tax-cutting experiment has failed while Brownback and his allies say national economic factors — including slumps in agriculture, aviation and energy production — are keeping Kansas from growing as much as hoped.

“With these challenges, we must continue to hold the line on state government expenditures while protecting core state services,” Brownback told lawmakers in a letter accompanying his proposals.

The state faced a larger budget hole last year and Republican lawmakers increased sales and cigarette taxes so they could preserve most of the income tax cuts championed by Brownback. He ruled out additional tax increases this year.

Brownback’s administration projects that his proposals would leave the state with cash reserves of $88 million at the end of June 2017. When budget director Shawn Sullivan presented the recommendations to a joint meeting of the House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means committees, some members questioned whether the state can meet its revenue projections.