To the editor:
Senator Fitzgerald informs us (Feb. 16 Times) that state revenues "are up and indications are that they will continue to rise."
Actually, projections are that state revenue will fall. Economists project a substantial decline in revenue due to the governor's elimination of tax on business, expected to cost approximately $400M, with another $262M loss when the sales tax drops by 0.6 percent.
In its sunshine review last fall, the nonpartisan Kansas Legislative Research Department projected that in the fiscal year beginning July 2013 state revenue would fall by as much as $705M (11.4 percent). Recent projections are more optimistic and last week (Feb. 13) KLRD revised its estimate $123M to the better, still a significant decline in revenue.
KLRD projects a probable budget shortfall by July 2014 and cumulative shortfalls over the next five years in excess of $2.5B.
It is possible, of course, that a budget can be crafted to account for lost revenue, an exercise in which the legislature is now engaged, with results that can only be painful for the citizens of Kansas as we face drastic reductions in essential services.
The governor claims to have spent less, but it turns out the gov had an error on his spreadsheet. Brownback is spending more than his predecessor – unfortunately, not on education, health care, transportation, or child services.
Income down, spending up, safety net gone. Hmm.
We need good data to make hard decisions. Mr. Fitzgerald's statement that revenues are rising and will continue to do so would seem to be disingenuous at best.