June 13, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Senate President Wagle To Propose Spending Cuts

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Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle announced she will propose across-the-board spending cuts to balance this year’s budget.

The Senate will debate a proposal Thursday that balances the budget without any spending cuts. However, Wagle told the Wichita Eagle she will seek to amend the legislation to include across-the-board cuts of up to 5 percent.

The Wichita Republican noted spending cuts are painful, but said she’s experienced that pain with her family and business budgets.

“I think Kansans expect us to cut expenses before we determine a tax increase,” she said.

Legislators are attempting to fill a $280 million budget gap for the current fiscal year. Wagle said cuts will limit the amount of taxes the legislature will need in the future.

The bill she will seek to amend involves borrowing from a long-term investment fund and withholding, or delaying, $150 million in KPERS payments.

Similar Services, Better Prices

Kansas Policy Institute President Dave Trabert frequently advocates for limiting taxes, but he isn’t a fan of across-the-board cuts.

“While we would agree whole heartedly that government spending needs to be reduced, we don’t support across-the-board cuts, because government will protect itself,” he says.

Trabert said he would recommend finding ways to offer existing services at better prices. All states provide the same basket of services, but some states provide those services at lower cost than Kansas.

For example, Florida spends $2,246 per resident, while Kansas spends $3,699 per resident. Kansas also has more state employees per 10,000 residents than the national average. The Sunflower State employs 172.5 state government employees per 10,000 residents. The national average is 135.6 state employees per 10,000 residents.

“We’re talking about, how do we balance the budget? You provide the services at the best possible price,” he said.

In addition to spending less for similar services, people are moving into states that don’t tax income and moving out of states that do.

States that charge income taxes had negative 2 percent domestic migration, while those that don’t tax income had a 7 percent increase in domestic migration.

In other words, people are saying the government services provided by the states without income taxes are acceptable, Trabert said.

“When they’re moving into those states, they’re saying this is a good value proposition,” he said. “Government’s pushback will always be well, they’re not providing the same level of service. But that’s not for government to decide. That’s for citizens to decide.”

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