Duane Goossen, Kansas budget director under Governors Kathleen Sebelius, Mark Parkinson and Bill Graves, writes and advocates daily about his plans to fix Kansas’s budget challenges, despite being a major part of the problem. Under Goossen’s tutelage, state spending increased an average of 8 percent per year at the same time as state revenue was leveling off.
Kansas’s public pension system, KPERS was the most underfunded public pension system in the nation. Goossen left the budget in shambles. And as he left office at the end of former Gov. Mark Parkinson’s term, the SEC charged Kansas with securities fraud and cited Goossen for his role in failing to disclose the abysmal state of KPERS.
Today, in his role as a senior fellow for an organization that doesn’t really exist, Goossen advocates for a budget proposal that seeks to spend more money than ever before. His blog for the Kansas Center for Economic Growth, a part of Kansas Action for Children, attempts to decode positive budget news released this week showing Kansas’s revenue exceeded expectations.
He notes that “beating the revenue estimate in January is not exactly a high bar” as state officials recently changed the way they estimate revenues, adjusting expectations downward.
What he fails to mention is that legislators and the Governor’s Budget Office use estimates to determine how much money they’ll have to spend in the future. Getting it wrong repeatedly creates the budget gaps Goossen is so desperate to fill with additional taxes.
It’s unfortunate that media continually quote Goossen as an expert, and that legislators will consider a budget Goossen helped craft. The Rise Up, Kansas! plan calls for introducing a third tax bracket, increasing taxes on small business owners, and adding an 11 cent per gallon fuel tax at the pump. (Strangely, a KNSS 98.7 radio story quotes the Kansas Center for Economic Growth Executive Director Heidi Holliday on the Rise Up, Kansas! tax plan without bothering to mention the added gas tax, which seems relevant.)
Improved budget estimates will eliminate future budget gaps between bad projections and the promiscuous accounting of legislative bodies that feel compelled to spend every projected dime. It’s a step in the right direction. Goossen’s solution to Kansas budget woes is more of what put the state on its current fiscal path in the first place–spending, spending and more spending.