Kansas was $344 million in the hole. Gov. Sam Brownback’s solution? Take money from pensions, road maintenance and education.
Whether or not you support the cuts, they only stanch the bleeding created by Brownback’s fiscal policies. Covering the wound with quick budget cuts, though, doesn’t address potential problems in the future. In the next fiscal year, Kansas faces a potential shortfall of almost $600 million, according to The New York Times.
Brownback cut funding for education by $44.5 million after January tax income came in $47.2 million short of original expectations.
In 2012 and 2013, lawmakers slashed personal income taxes on the top earners by 29 percent. They also exempted 281,000 business owners and 53,000 farmers completely from state income taxes, according to The Lawrence Journal-World.
The result has been a fiscal disaster. Instead of receiving more income from taxes, as Brownback promised, the state has received less. Lawmakers found themselves in a no-win situation as they scrambled to find a way to make up for the budget shortfall.
What will happen next year? Will we see another situation where our elected officials fly by the seat of their pants in order to keep the state running?
Cutting from government should be part of a plan rather than a reaction. Hasty decision making has never been our government’s strong suit, and it shows in the cuts that were made.
It’s too much to hope for the tax cuts to be reversed. Instead, Brownback wants to find new ways to tax Kansans. He proposed to increase the liquor tax from 8 percent to 12 percent and almost triple the tax on cigarettes from 79 cents to $2.29 a pack.
The so-called “sin tax” shows us more about Brownback’s lack of morality. Rather than make businesses pay their fair share, this governor would prefer the tax burden be shouldered on individuals.
Luckily, the proposal does not seem to have much support in Topeka, according to The Kansas City Star. House Speaker Ray Merrick spoke out against the taxes.
“I don’t want to chase the revenue we already do collect on alcohol and tobacco across the state line, which will defeat the purpose of raising taxes on those products in the first place,” Merrick said in a written statement.
The worst part of this is bad planning. Brownback has proven himself to be incompetent when it comes to balancing the budget. As we enter his new term in office, the thought of every Kansan should be, “What gets cut next?”
Jon Parton is a senior in mass communications.