Budget fix – It’s hard to be happy about the combination of tax increases and spending cuts that legislators are considering in Topeka. But some version of that unappetizing mix is the only realistic way to deal with the state’s ongoing budget woes.
Senate GOP leaders have released a budget that could serve as a platform for their colleagues to build upon this session. Unlike the proposal Gov. Sam Brownback released last month, the Senate plan would repeal the LLC exemption and raise personal income taxes – both measures that are long overdue.
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To their credit, most lawmakers seem to agree that one-time maneuvers – taking money from highways, postponing pension contributions, leaning on federal money or cashing in a tobacco settlement – have been, or would be, a disaster. They’re demanding a structural fix so they aren’t forced to debate tax and spending issues over and over, like some Groundhog Day nightmare.
Where they end up is far from clear, but lawmakers in both houses of the Kansas Legislature appear to finally be confronting the state’s financial crisis. Confronting in this instance means tax increases that increasing numbers of Republicans recognize are necessary, if hard to swallow.
School cuts – With the state still far short of making ends meet, school districts could face funding cuts this year ranging from hundreds of thousands of dollars in small rural districts to millions in bigger districts such as Garden City USD 457. Such setbacks make it tougher to educate youngsters. They also hurt communities by draining dollars that would be spent locally.