Work group proposes fixing revenue estimates by removing economists, eliminating estimates

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Gov. Sam Brownback speaks at Marco Rubio's rally in Topeka, Kansas, on March 4, 2016. (File Photo by Austin Fuller | The Collegian)

The Kansas tax revenue estimating group that has repeatedly been wrong may be overhauled in the near future.

This week, it was revealed that the tax receipts for September were $45 million below the estimate for the month, according to a report from the Kansas Department of Revenue.

For much of the last two years, the state’s tax revenues have been below estimates.

When February tax revenues were $53 million short, Gov. Sam Brownback cut higher education budgets by $17 million. This resulted in a nearly $5 million cut to Kansas State.

Afterward, the university increased student tuition by 5 percent.

Now, Gov. Sam Brownback’s work group has proposed changes to prevent overestimates.

One of the recommendations is to eliminate the monthly estimates.

Tax revenue is estimated by the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group, which is comprised of representatives from the Division of the Budget, Department of Revenue, Legislative Research Department and three economists, one from the University of Kansas, one from Wichita State University and one from K-State.

Lance Bachmeier, professor of economics, is the K-State representative.

Another recommendation is to remove the current economists and replace them with a system where a request for proposals would find a single economist for both the economic outlook and revenue forecasting meetings.

According to KCUR-FM, Sam Williams, the retired accountant who led the work group, said the revenue estimating group does not currently have the right people.

“The tools we have are not accurate,” Williams said. “The people we’re bringing to the table are not bringing, in our opinion, the expertise to the table we need to bring.”

In an email to the Collegian, Bachmeier declined to comment on his role in making revenue estimates, why revenue estimates have been off and his recommendation to fix the process.

“Unfortunately, as a member of the group, I allow Legislative Research and the Department of Budget to handle public communications on all issues,” Bachmeier said. “Therefore I will not be making any public comments.”

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Jason Tidd graduated from Kansas State University's Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communication in May 2017. He was the spring 2017 editor-in-chief, fall 2016 news editor and spring 2016 assistant news editor. While at K-State, Jason played baritone in the Pride of Wildcat Land marching band.