Recently Kansas Senate President Stephen Morris wrote an op-ed which explained the Kansas Legislature’s reasoning for passing a one cent per dollar increase in the statewide sales tax effective July 1. His piece may be read at State of the State KS.
Some of Morris’ curious reasoning can be seen right away. He writes “… very difficult decisions were made to cut or reduce the $6 billion state budget by roughly $1.5 billion …”
For most people, a cut of $1.5 billion from a $6 billion budget means the state will spend $4.5 billion. But the spending bill passed by the legislature calls for spending $5.6 billion in fiscal year 2011, which starts on July 1, 2010.
Right before writing this Morris complained that “you may hear a lot of misinformation about what actually happened in Topeka this year” and that he will “set the record straight.”
So much for that.
Following is a response to Morris from AFP’s Derrick Sontag.
The recent letter to the editor submitted by Senate President Stephen Morris caught my attention. He claims passing the largest sales tax increase in Kansas history was the “only responsible way” to address the budget shortfall. A shortfall he blames on an “economic crisis.”
It apparently escaped Mr. Morris’ mind that the legislature’s own non-partisan staff predicted back in May of 2007 (well before any economic downturn) the state budget would ultimately face a funding shortfall. It was at this time a group of fiscally responsible legislators pointed out state spending had increased by 40% in just a five year time period. A staggering clip that any reasonable person knew could not be sustained.
Morris also failed to mention that the House Appropriations Committee proposed a budget that wasn’t contingent on passage of any kind of tax increase and actually increased spending for K-12 education.
According to legislative staff, the 2012 budget is projected to be in the red by more than $200 million. Considering that Mr. Morris and his colleagues believe tax increases are the responsible way to address budget shortfalls we can probably expect this group to be advocating for more tax increases next year.
The question is, which tax will they target next?
Derrick Sontag is state director of Americans for Prosperity-Kansas. He lives in Topeka.