Latest estimates put state budget deficit at $510 million for 2011

The April Consensus Revenue Estimates were released Friday. The Consensus Revenue Estimating Group projects we will be short on money between now and the end of June another $70 million more than anticipated, and they believe revenue for fiscal year 2011 (which starts July 1) will be less an additional $60 million more than originally estimated.

This means the deficit for the remainder of this year, when added to the projected deficit for next year, is projected to be $510 million. This shortfall is based on the governor?s proposed budget, because that?s the only budget around at the moment.

The Legislature did not pass any budget before our April break, so we don?t have one to use when trying to estimate the shortfall.

For your information, every item in the governor?s budget that we eliminate or lower will reduce the $510 million hole. There are those who claim we can cut $510 million from the governor?s budget. I don?t see how, without permanently damaging the good things we have going in Kansas.

Even so, we will certainly continue to pare away, reducing the governor?s proposed budget where feasible. There are truly ?trimmable? items he has in his budget, just not $510 million worth of them.

Now to get back to last week?s report on bills passed so far this session:

? House Substitute for Senate Bill 269 amends the Kansas Consumer Protection Act to add veterans, the surviving spouse of a veteran and immediate family members of someone in the military as protected consumers.

? House Sub. for SB 458 amends the Kansas Uniform Securities Act to strengthen penalties for securities crimes?involving stocks, bonds and other investments?based on how much was stolen or how much a person loses through fraud.

Federal prosecutors are handling large securities-fraud cases, but they aren?t messing around with small ones?$500,000 or under. This bill should help Kansas fill the gap in the event of a Kansas version of the Bernie Madoff situation.

? With House Sub. for SB 2517, we adopted a comprehensive makeover of our domestic violence laws. Our goal is to stop abuse of family members and people in dating relationships, to better track offenders?as many or most are repeat offenders?and to figure out a way for people who abuse others to quit.

? SB 430 addresses three issues. First, you may have already discovered that from now on, Intangibles Tax returns won?t be sent to Topeka; they are now filed directly with the county clerk. Incidentally, you may recall that Marion County repealed its Intangibles Tax.

Second, it modifies various tax credits that we gave a ?haircut? last session.

The third issue addressed in this bill: The director of revenue may now require sales tax reports, withholding tax reports and use tax reports to be sent in electronically.

During break, please contact me by e-mail me at: Brookens70@sbcglobal.net, or write me at 201 Meadow Lane, Marion, KS 66861, or call me at 620-382-2133. I head back to Topeka April 27, and you can still use this contact information even after the 27th.

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