Gov. Sam Brownback promised a structurally balanced budget during his State of the State address, and he has delivered on that promise.
His budget reconciles spending with available revenue, supports core functions of state government, and finds commonsense efficiencies. This proposal provides for a structurally balanced budget while addressing the current shortfall.
The governor’s budget does not rely on large cuts to any core services of state government. It also does not introduce massive tax increases on the income of middle class Kansans.
This budget, however, does address both sides of the fiscal ledger. It provides for both responsible expenditure reductions and reasonable revenue enhancements that are consistent with the governor’s pro-growth strategy.
In order to ensure that Kansas has enough money to make ends meet this fiscal year, we have identified a funding source that can address the present shortfall. However, because such actions are not sustainable over the long term, the governor has made long-term structural balance a top priority. We share the people’s desire for fiscal sustainability, and are proposing measures to achieve it.
In order to ensure fairness in taxation, this budget taxes the passive income of small business owners. This means that business income that is reinvested into the Kansas economy will remain free of burdensome income taxes, but income not actively invested in growing the economy will be taxed at the normal rate.
Because income taxes are disproportionately damaging to economic growth, the governor’s budget proposal focuses on consumption taxes as the primary means of raising new revenue. This keeps taxes off of both middle class families and job creators, while helping to ensure that the Kansas budget achieves structural balance.
Budgets are about priorities, and this budget sets several priorities for the governor’s remaining years in office. It includes a teaching scholarship, TeachersKan, to ensure that children in rural Kansas receive the education that they deserve. It provides for a $15,000 bachelor’s degree challenge that will work to keep college affordable for Kansas students. It provides funding to solve the chronic shortage of doctors and dentists in rural areas of the state. It also ensures that Kansas will continue to have a pro-growth tax system moving forward as we work to overcome the economic difficulties facing our agriculture, energy and manufacturing sectors.
While legislators on both sides of the aisle may disagree with some of the particulars of this proposal, we look forward to working with them to pass and sign a balanced budget. Together, the governor and the Legislature will continue in their shared goal of making Kansas the best state in America to raise a family and grow a business. This budget keeps that goal as its primary focus.
Kansas is a great state. This budget keeps Kansas on a long-term path towards hope, prosperity, and a brighter future.
Shawn Sullivan is the budget director of Kansas.