ELLINWOOD — Kansas is in a good fiscal position, Secretary of Revenue Nick Jordan said Thursday at an Ellinwood Chamber Town Hall. One of his key points on Kansas tax policy is that the state ended Fiscal Year 2014 with $434.6 million cash-on-hand.
“This is in contrast to the estimate made when the tax policy was passed in 2012, forecasting a $242.2 million deficit,” Jordan reported. “A $672.2 million turnaround.”
Gov. Sam Brownback chose Jordan for the position of Kansas Secretary of Revenue in 2010. The former Kansas senator coauthored the nationally recognized Kansas Economic Growth Act, which created the innovative Kansas Bioscience Authority, and led the drive to create the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science. J. Basil Dannebohm, administrator of the Ellinwood Chamber of Commerce, noted these and other accomplishments when introducing the lifelong Kansan.
Jordan said the projected negative ending balances came from the Kansas Legislative Research Department in 2012, when the governor’s tax plan was first proposed. Those projections also predicted a $914.6 million deficit by Fiscal Year 2015 and a $1.5 billion deficit in Fiscal Year 2016. Now the KLRD is projecting another positive ending balance — $29.4 million — for 2015, and the negative $1.5 billion projection for Fiscal Year 2016 is down to a negative $237.8 million.
“We’re doing fine,” Jordan said.
The Kansas Constitution calls for a balanced budget, so the state won’t actually work with a deficit, he noted. If the negative ending balance projected for FY 2016 can’t be turned into a positive — and he believes it can — then cuts will have to be made. However, he assured constituents that the state will not make cuts to its “core responsibilities.”
“During the 2014 session the Legislature passed and the governor signed the largest property tax cut in Kansas in over 15 years — $84 million in property tax relief for Kansas families,” Jordan reported in a list of key points. While this has caused a decrease in state revenue, “Kansans now have more money in their pockets to spend, save and invest. We believe the private sector including families know best how to spend their hard earned income, while state government should be fiscally responsible funding and providing core services.”
Jordan said the governor is focused on seeing businesses grow in the state of Kansas, and at the Department of Revenue they are seeing more withholding tax receipts than a year ago. This means jobs are being created or people are getting raises, he said.
Jordan also told audience members that Gov. Brownback has increased funding for K-12 education by over $270 million since 2011. During that time, hundreds of K-12 teachers have been hired, including over 280 special education teachers.
Dannebohm said the Ellinwood Chamber has extended invitations to Republicans, Democrats and Independents for its Town Hall meetings. “I think it’s important for us to be informed,” he said.