A coalition of Republicans announced a budget proposal to balance the budget without tax increases Monday afternoon.
Chuck Weber, a Wichita Republican, stood in front of approximately 30 House and Senate Republicans announcing a proposal he called the Republican Balanced Budget Solution. If adopted, the budget plan would slow the growth of government, restore a 4 percent cut to Medicaid reimbursements, and fully fund KPERS.
“All we’ve been hearing is tax and spend, tax and spend,” Weber said. “There’s another way.”
The proposal would partially securitize a portion of tobacco money without touching the Children’s Initiative Fund, or CIF. Sen. Ty Masterson, an Andover Republican, explained that a portion of the tobacco settlement funding is rolled into the general fund each year. The Republican Balanced Budget Solution would use that funding–approximately $19 million– and direct it on a one-time basis to KPERS.
The plan assumes the historical annual income tax revenue increase of 4 percent year over year and a historical sales tax income revenue increase of 3.75 percent year over year.
The plan doesn’t address school funding.
“K-12 is a separate issue. That’s not part of this,” Weber said.
The state would finish the year with a $54 million balance using the Republican Balanced Budget Solution, Weber said.
To balance the budget, the proposal eliminates all new spending. For example, the Senate Ways and Means Committee adopted a budget proposal that added $298 million in new spending over the Governor’s recommended budget, and Kansas government spending has increased 145 percent since 1992, or $1.9 billion above the rate of inflation during that same period.
“I’m trying to show we do not have to have a massive retroactive tax increase,” Masterson said.
The proposal rolls back the two-year budget process, requiring lawmakers to do annual budgets once again. Masterson said the budget picture changes year-to-year, and imposing a premature tax increase could undermine growth that might eliminate a shortfall in year two. If growth continues, there may not be a deficit next year.
Masterson said about 40 lawmakers attended discussions on the Republican Balanced Budget Solution, including about a quarter of the Kansas Senate. Still, he concedes the proposal is unlikely to pass.
“I think there’s very little chance that this plan as it sits right now could pass. It’s a good starting point, and I think some version is passable,” he said.
Weber said it’s time to change the conversation away from more taxes and more spending.
“We don’t want to tax Kansans more than we need,” Weber said.
According to a recent Docking Institute poll, 75 percent of Kansans want any budget shortfalls addressed with spending cuts. About 41 percent preferred using only spending cuts to balance the budget; another 34 percent said lawmakers should use a combination of cuts and tax increases to balance the budget. Only a quarter of respondents supported the sole use of tax increases.
“As we approach Memorial Day, those controlling this legislature are no closer to a solution than they were in January,” Masterson said. “As they work behind the scenes to reach the magic number of votes necessary to ram through a plan that includes new and unnecessary spending and pays for that new spending with higher taxes on the middle class, we have a simple, straightforward plan that balances our budget without increasing the burden on hard-working Kansans.”