Gov. Sam Brownback said he would present a two-year budget during his State of the State address Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013 in Topeka. He spoke of his accomplishments and expressed confidence in the future even though the road may be rough at times.
The Governor pushed for and go the largest income tax cut in history last year, and he wants more this year, and eventually to completely eliminate income tax.
While experts predict a $264 million shortfall in revenue this year because of the cuts, Brownback insisted the cuts will result in growth. He said his budget would be balanced without cutting services even with the cuts.
The democrats were quick to respond with sharp criticism. Sen. Anthony Hensley gave the democratic response, saying "The governor has brought Washington D.C. politics to Kansas, and Washington D.C. politics do not belong in Kansas." He said the governor's programs had cut taxes for the wealthiest Kansans, and for out of state corporations, at the expense of poorer Kansans.
He said a doctor making $250,000 per year would pay much lower income taxes, while his receptionist making $20,000 per year or less, would lose hundreds of dollars.
Brownback also said he would keep the sales tax level, which may have been a veiled reference to not allowing a .6 percent sales tax to expire this year. The state added that tax because of the economy and it was to expire this year. He could keep the tax to offset some income tax reductions. Financial experts predict the state will face a $264 million shortfall this year, and Democrats estimate it could grow to $2.4 billion by 2018.
Brownback also called on the legislature to passs a law saying the state, and not judges, are responsible for spending Kansas money. This was in response to the recent case where judges ruled the state must fund education at a higher level. Brownback says his tax cuts will spur job growth, will reverse the trend of people leaving Kansas, and make the state "a shining example."
Henley said the example Kansas is setting is hardly shining.
"Don't turn Kansas into another Wisconsin," he said. " Two years of failed policies have left our state nearly bankrupt and we have a $2.6 million shotfall hanging over our heads. He has created our own fiscal cliff."
The legislature opened MOnday and is scheduled to meet for 90 days. The budget, including school funding, will be one of the biggest issues they will face.