The state of Kansas just closed the books on fiscal year 2018. The new tax policy adopted during the 2017 legislative session has now been in effect one year and resulted in more than $1.2 billion in restored revenue and an ending balance of $318 million. Our credit rating has been upgraded since the policy change, and the state has been able to afford to offer much-needed salary increases to state employees, fund highway projects, invest in mental health services and restore cuts to schools.
This is in stark contrast to massive annual deficits and the time when monthly revenue projections reported loss after loss, a result of former Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax experiment that eliminated an estimated 330,000 Kansans from paying their fair share of taxes.
Tired of the fiscal uncertainty and budget cuts to core services, Kansans elected several new legislators who ran on a platform to end the Brownback tax experiment. And end it they did. …
Yet secretary of revenue Sam Williams, a Brownback appointee, isn’t giving credit to the Legislature for its work to correct the damage. He attributed the state’s strong ending balance to the federal tax cuts passed late last year.
While the federal tax cut has benefited some Kansans, the state’s strong fiscal position is a result of no longer having a tax loophole that enabled Kansans to avoid paying state income taxes.
The tax increase was necessary to reverse the state’s decline. That’s why the effort was supported by a bipartisan group of legislatures as diverse as Speaker of the House Ron Ryckman, House Minority Leader Jim Ward, Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning and Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley.
This is especially important to acknowledge as the primary election approaches. …
The Legislature did the right thing when it voted to end the Brownback experiment. This week’s year-end numbers are proof that Kansas is in a better fiscal position and can invest its resources effectively across the state to provide the services for public safety and education that Kansans expect.
We can’t afford to go backward, and voters would be wise to reject candidates who support a return to the Brownback tax philosophy.
— GateHouse Kansas