From Kansas Policy Institute.
Duane Goossen hides from honest scrutiny … again
By Dave Trabert
Former state budget director Duane Goossen published a scathing review of the KPI 5-Year State Budget Plan a few days ago on his blog, so I wrote and asked if he would join Steve Anderson and me for a public discussion of the facts and issues. He ignored our invitation for civil discussion, just as he did when we explained how he distorted the truth about education finance.
Goossen claims we made an $802 million math error and tries to fool unsuspecting readers by saying we didn’t account for all of what is purported to be a $1.3 billion shortfall. We didn’t account for it because there is no $1.3 billion shortfall!
As we explained in How Budget Deficits are Fabricated in Kansas, Kansas Legislative Research Department (KLRD) counts budget changes multiple times in arriving at what they call a $1.3 billion shortfall. Once money is cut from the base budget … it’s gone. It doesn’t have to be cut again every year into the future.
According to KLRD, the spending adjustments needed to maintain a zero ending balance total $482.3 million over five years.
In order to get to $1.3 billion, one must count the FY 2016 change FOUR times … the FY 2017 change is counted THREE times … the FY 2018 change is counted TWICE … and only the FY 2019 change is counted once.
Goossen also mischaracterizes several proposed uses of excess cash reserves as “cuts” to transportation and education. As clearly explained in our Budget Plan, we are proposing that a KDOT surplus of $150 million be returned to the General Fund and that sales tax transfers to KDOT be reduced so that future surpluses are not created. We suggest that school districts and universities be required to use a portion of excess cash reserves, allowing education funding to reduced one time while excess funds are spent down.
He also falsely claims we are recommending a $100 million cut to the Kansas Bioscience Authority, when our plan merely suggests funding KBA at the same amount it received in 2014. The budget savings comes about by removing a statutory set-aside of $25 million per year that isn’t planned to be spent.
These are just some of the outlandish claims made by Goossen, which probably explains why he ignores invitations to have a civil public discussion of the facts. He has nothing to gain and everything to lose.
Our budget plan shows multiple options to balance the budget without service reductions or tax increases…healthy ending balances…increased funding for education and Medicaid…and record-setting spending overall. But media won’t even look at the plan and others are spreading false claims about it.
Kansans are being inundated with the false choice of tax increases or service reductions … all for political gain.
Ah, the fair and balanced proof of Dave Trabert, that indeed KPI loves the schools and only wants to increase their “efficiency”….you are an untiring lobbyist for the Koch brothers, relentless in your pursuit of their interests, a fine water carrier for their unwavering desires to privatize. Is it possible for you to actually take a position which conflicts with AFP, if you knew that position to be accurate and true?
“During this past election, Gov. Sam Brownback told Kansans that job growth would prevent budget shortfalls.
“The sun is shining in Kansas and don’t let anybody tell you any different,” he said in one campaign commercial.
His budget and tax officials downplayed growing revenue shortfalls, arguing that spending cuts wouldn’t be needed in the current fiscal year and that “efficiencies will take care of shortfalls next year.”
Yet less than a week after the election, new official revenue estimates exposed the ugly truth: The state needs to cut at least $280 million in planned spending before next July, and it could need an additional $436 million in spending reductions or revenue increases next fiscal year.
And that’s just to get to zero. Restoring the statutorily required ending balance next fiscal year could require an additional $450 million, putting the total spending cuts or revenue increases needed this fiscal year and next at more than $1.2 billion.
These estimates also don’t factor in the likelihood that the courts will rule again that the state is inadequately funding public schools.
Not only did Brownback and his top officials refuse to acknowledge the reality of the budget problems, they and their surrogates tried to discredit those who raised alarms.
Brownback claimed that the nation’s top credit agencies downgraded Kansas’ bond rating because they don’t like tax cuts. Others critics of the state’s finances were brushed off as partisans engaging in “sky is falling” hysteria.
Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, and Rep. Gene Suellentrop, R-Wichita, the respective chairmen of the Senate and House budget committees, argued a week before the election that it was false to claim that “the state budget is in trouble.”
Even when announcing the new revenue estimates Monday, state budget director Shawn Sullivan talked in euphemisms, saying that the state would cover the shortfall through efficiencies and “policy proposals.” He also declared that “the state of Kansas must continue to live within its means, just as families do every day.”
The difference, of course, is that families don’t voluntarily cut their income and then pretend everything will be OK.”