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Kansas Announces Big Budget Gap, but True Gap May Be Even Larger: Live from the Roasterie

Thanks to the Republican election victory in Kansas this cycle--and thanks to the inability of moderate Republicans (we are looking at you, Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum) to get their act together to defend the civilization on the prairie that my ancestors started to build before theirs ever got here--the voters of Kansas continue their attempt to transform it into a Texas--but with little oil, hostile to Hispanics, and with days in November when it is fifteen degrees.

The extremely-sharp yet still Republican Josh Barro reports:

Josh Barro: Kansas Announces Big Budget Gap, but True Gap May Be Even Larger: "State officials said this week...

...that the tax cuts championed by Gov. Sam Brownback would force them to start a new round of substantial budget cuts before the end of June... cut $279 million, $239 million of which is attributable to lower-than-expected personal income tax collections. Those aren’t small numbers in a state budget of approximately $6 billion.... A close look at the state’s new revenue projections makes clear they are highly optimistic.... Kansas says it expects to collect slightly more personal income tax this year than it did last year, even though, with four months of collections in, they are 11 percent behind last year’s pace.

If the last four months’ performance is similar to the next eight, the state won’t miss its original income tax estimate by $239 million. It will miss it by $546 million.... Because the state was already scheduled to spend down nearly its entire rainy-day fund balance (which totaled over $700 million in 2013) by the end of this year, it will have to respond to any widening budget gap with some combination of further spending cuts and tax increases. ‘They’re clearly expecting income tax revenue to beat last year in April and May, but we’re not on any path to do that,’ said Duane Goossen, a former state budget director under governors including Bill Graves, a Republican, and Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat. ‘I would expect that the estimate is still too high.’...

One reason to believe Kansas would issue a rosy estimate is that both liberals and conservatives in the state have incentives to believe in a high estimate and just cross their fingers. For conservatives, a lower revenue estimate would be embarrassing, because it shows the Brownback tax cuts were much more costly than advertised. For liberals, a lower revenue estimate would require a bigger round of state spending cuts in the short term. A detailed memo about the estimates, which may explain why revenues would be better in the remainder of the fiscal year , should be released late this or early next week by the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group, a group made up of Kansas budget officials and state academics...