Kansas fiscal experiment

Those evaluating the Kansas fiscal “experiment” should consider what is the relevant input variable.

State General Fund Expenditures by Major Purpose chart 2015-11An experiment implies changing inputs (one or more independent variables) and examining outputs (dependent variables). If we are to consider the Kansas budget an experiment — and I’m not sure that analogy is apt — what is the independent variable? Is it tax revenue collected, or government spending?

If we believe the purpose of taxation is to pay for spending, then the independent variable is the level of spending. As can be seen in the nearby table and chart, Kansas spending has risen in recent years. Perhaps it has not risen as fast as some people want. Also, these numbers are not adjusted for inflation (which has been low).

But to conclude the “experiment” is a failure because tax revenue is lower is not looking at the right input variable. We should be looking at spending, which keeps going up.

State General Fund Expenditures by Major Purpose table 2015-11

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