Budget boggle

Gov. Sam Brownback is telling Kan?sans that the income tax cuts he championed in 2012 already have started to generate long-term prosperity. But he is mired in questions about whether recent, short-term revenue drops show that his fiscal policies are endangering the schools, universities and social services that many voters value.

Duane Goossen, former state budget director under three governors?and one of Goessel?s favorite sons?predicted in a recent speech that Kansas will not have ?enough money in the bank for the state to make it all the way through Fiscal Year 2015 and cover the budget that has been approved.? Goossen said state income tax cuts passed in 2012 may be costing much more than anticipated.

Brownback?s debate with Democratic critics over his economic policies has both sides flinging statistics. His partisans argue that Kansas is booming, with nearly 56,000 new private-sector jobs since Brown?back took office in January 2011. His critics say Kansas is lagging behind many states in the region in gross domestic product growth in 2013. Meanwhile, estimates from the Kansas Legislative Research Department show the state spending down its reserves to $56 million by the end of the next fiscal year and going into the red the following year.

We don?t pretend to have a grasp on fiscal truth here. Statistics and politics have a way of supporting almost any conclusion, depending on the biases of the experts. But relatively credible sources?which to us would include Goossen and the KLRD?give us pause about the state?s economic future at a time when state budget cuts are already increasingly placing the burden of funding critical programs and services on the backs of local and county governments.