Kansas reported Friday that its October tax collections fell short of expectations, potentially complicating conservative Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's efforts to win a tough a re-election race after successfully pushing for large personal income tax cuts.
The Department of Revenue report that the state collected $23 million less than anticipated this month, a shortfall of 5.2 percent, came days before Tuesday's election. Democratic challenger Paul Davis immediately jumped on it, saying the shortfall is further evidence that Brownback's tax cutting was a failed "irresponsible experiment."
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Shawn Sullivan, the governor's budget director, said the administration already has been looking for budget savings and that the fiscal situation is "manageable." The Department of Revenue blamed unanticipated refunds from taxpayers who overestimated income from investments for 2013 and fluctuations in federal tax policy.
Davis has made some headway in wooing disaffected GOP moderates by arguing that the income tax cuts championed by Brownback are wrecking the state's finances. Under Brownback, the state has dropped its top personal income tax rate by 26 percent and exempted the owners of 191,000 businesses from income taxes altogether.
Before Friday's report, the Legislature's non-partisan research staff was predicting a $260 million budget shortfall by July 2016.
Brownback and his allies contend the tax cuts are creating jobs.
"Moving forward, the Kansas economy shows signs of growth," Sullivan said.
Since the current fiscal year started in July, tax collections have been nearly $47 million less than anticipated, a 2.6 percent shortfall. The state expected to collect more than $1.81 billion in taxes and took in $1.77 billion. Kansas collected $417 million in taxes in October, when it anticipated collecting $440 million.
Brownback re-election campaign: http://www.brownback.com/
Davis campaign: http://www.davisforkansas.com/
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