Budget shortfall – Gov. Sam Brownback said of the state’s financial crisis, “All options are on the table.” That’s good to hear. For starters, the governor must provide the leadership needed to roll back the income-tax reductions that took effect in 2013. That would go a long way toward raising revenues needed to provide adequate public services to Kansans. Brownback and the Republican-controlled Legislature have created this huge mess for Kansans. They can’t cut their way out of it. Revenue increases have to be part of the solution.
Everything is on the table, Gov. Sam Brownback has said. It will be interesting to see what’s left in the state budget by the time the next legislative session ends. All the more reason for the governor to acknowledge some misjudgments and modify his tax plans.
A governor who said all options would be considered would be wise to place reform of the ill-conceived tax policy atop the list, and avoid damaging cuts to vital state services. Fat chance, as Gov. Sam Brownback and his ultraconservative allies already have public education and other services Kansans need in their sights. Buckle up, Kansas. The road only gets rougher from here on out.
How Gov. Sam Brownback and legislators will reach the balancing point for a budget that is projected to have a $279 million gap between revenues and expenditures is unknown. What is certain is that the governor and legislators share responsibility for the state’s current financial condition and share responsibility for getting us out of it with as little harm as possible.
Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, and Senate Vice President Jeff King, R-Independence, recently criticized Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to cope with a predicted $279 million budget shortfall for this fiscal year, which ends June 30. Wagle said Brownback has put the Legislature in a “difficult position” with his plan that would, among other things, borrow money from the highway fund and divert money from public pensions. The question is, where were Wagle and King when Brownback’s tax cuts were passed and they were warned of what was coming?
Cuba – President Obama’s opening to Cuba is good news for Kansas agricultural producers. Cuba is a billion-dollar market that has essentially been closed to us while Canada and other nations benefited from trade with Havana. Gov. Sam Brownback, when he was a U.S. senator, worked to open Cuban markets. Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran of Kansas have also worked to open those markets, as have members of our all-Republican House delegation. It is way past time for the United States to reopen full diplomatic, trade and travel relations with Cuba.
Wind credit – Congress’ short-term, stopgap approach to various tax credit programs has grown even more dysfunctional, evidenced by the one-year extension of a tax credit that is important to Kansas’ wind-energy industry. The wind-energy production tax credit has its champions and its critics, but the best solution for everyone would be to take a longer view and establish tax credit continuance but phase it out over three to five years.