Uncategorized LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Budget comes up short

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Budget comes up short

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Greetings from the Kansas Statehouse. This week has seen a flurry of activity. No issue has been larger this week than what is known as the rescission bill.

Each year the legislature passes a budget for the next fiscal year. State fiscally are named for the year in which they end. We are now more than half way through FY 2015, which will end on June 30 of this year. Because state revenues have continued to fall it became apparent in November 2014 that the state would not have enough money to pay its bills in the latter half of FY 2015.

The temporary fix in that case is called a rescission bill. It is literally an amending of the 2015 budget to cut spending or transfer funds to make sure there is not a deficit. Rescission bills rarely raise taxes because tax revenues would not be collected in time to fix a budget shortfall.

Due to policies passed in 2012 the state cut income taxes and altogether stopped taxing money made by LLC’s or certain types of corporations. The theory was that these cuts would act as a stimulant to the economy. The money retained by taxpayers would be spent or used to create jobs and the economy would grow. That growth would mean more tax revenue for the state. As of this writing that has not happened.

The rescission bill that passed the House this week with 88 of 91 Republicans voting for it, was a necessary evil. Had it not passed the state would have run out of operating funds by the third week of February. Payments to schools would not have been made, law enforcement officers would have been sent home, courts would close, and essential government services would not have been available to the public.

The bad news is that the rescission bill provided to us was only a temporary plug to our leaky state budget. It used one time fund transfers from highway funds, other state departments, and indiscriminate spending cuts – four percent across the board without regard to where real inefficiencies might be – to try to balance the budget. This means needed highway maintenance projects are in jeopardy of not being completed, the plan to make KPERS more solvent is delayed, and services that Kansans rely on are reduced.

Just like at home though, when we transfer money from savings to meet our monthly bills that does not fix the structural imbalance between our income and expenses. We can’t borrow from ourselves forever. Our current fiscal condition is indicative of a need for greater financial responsibility, honesty about the limits of current policies, and reasonable solutions for the good of all Kansans. I will continue to work for measures that do those things and oppose those that do not.

On a lighter note, it was a pleasure to be able to introduce a resolution honoring the 150th Anniversary of Ottawa University. President Kevin Eichner, Chair of the Board of Trustees Wynndee Lee, and Director of Government Affairs Lisa Johnson joined me on the floor for the passage of the resolution and words honoring this great achievement.

I welcome your thoughts and if there is anything I can do to be of service in Topeka please contact me. Blaine.finch@house.ks.gov and (785) 296-7655.

Blaine Finch | 59th District Representative

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