Last month, Gov. Sam Brownback's administration announced the state was enjoying about $440 million in ending cash balances for the fiscal year that ended June 30. The Legislative Research Department, though, says that figure is significantly lower, and in fact on track with the previous estimate of $380 million.
Emporia Sen. Jeff Longbine says two different sets of criteria have led to the different numbers being used.
Emporia Rep. Don Hill says it's best to consider the source when looking at numbers such as these.
Lawmakers, who have been using the Legislative Research Department numbers to plan future budgets, were planning to spend down the vast majority of the state's cash reserve this fiscal year, perhaps leaving around $29 million in the bank for the start of fiscal 2016.
The Research Department report also has more disturbing news on future budgets, saying Kansas could be staring at a shortfall approaching $240 million by the end of July 26, a year earlier than first thought. Ongoing shortfalls could total nearly $250 million from fiscal 2017 to fiscal 2020.
The Research Department's announcement came just a few days after Standard & Poor downgraded the state's credit rating, saying a structural imbalance between revenues and expenses was the reason why, and just a few weeks after Moody's did likewise with the state bond rating. The reports and downgrades -- and the Research Department analysis the impact of income tax cuts on revenues was "understated" -- will add to the debate on whether the state should either slow the push to eliminate income taxes altogether or go away from that approach entirely.