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State government spending now costing taxpayers E-mail
Opinion
Thursday, 08 February 2018 08:36

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GUEST COLUMN, Jeff Glendening, Kansas state director Americans for Prosperity



If you haven’t received it already, your W-2 is in the mail. But when you go to file your taxes, you may get a bit of a shock. It’s likely that you’ll owe the state money or have a much smaller refund than expected.

That’s because, unlike Kansas families who make tough choices to stick to a budget, Topeka irresponsibly spends our tax dollars year after year.

As the deficit has ballooned out of control, lawmakers had to address a budget gap of $900 million last year. But rather than curb spending as you or I would do, lawmakers demanded a bailout from taxpayers. They reversed the 2012 tax cuts and passed the largest tax hike in state history.

Even worse, that increase was retroactive. This means that the rates families and businesses used to carefully plan their budgets last year have changed unexpectedly. So, the money that was withheld from our paychecks likely won’t be enough. Hardworking taxpayers and small businesses will owe hundreds or thousands of dollars when Tax Day rolls around.

“Everyone who pays income taxes would pay more,” The Wichita Eagle proclaimed last summer when the legislature passed the bill.

Even some low-income households that were previously exempt from income taxes will pay more because the tax threshold was cut in half. Where will they come up with the money? For families that struggle to make ends meet, covering this tax bill could cause them to fall behind on their rent or wipe out gas and grocery money for the month. 

Small business owners could face financial hardship as well. Like Kansas families, they will be forced to pay unexpected taxes on money that already went toward bills or reinvestment in their business. On top of that, they must navigate new compliance regulations and change withholdings for their employees.

And Kansas farmers whose budgets are complex and carefully balanced will be especially hard-hit by the unanticipated tax hike.

How did we get here?

In 2012 lawmakers cut taxes so Kansans could keep more of their hard-earned money and the economy could grow. It worked. That year, our state saw a historic number of small businesses open their doors and the next year, our unemployment rate fell below 5 percent. The American Legislative Exchange Council ranked our economic outlook 11th in the country—we were at 27 just two years before.

Ordinary Kansans did their part, but our state government failed us. Our legislature went on a bender and increased spending nearly every year. In just nine fiscal years, from 2010 to 2018, expenditures grew from $5.3 billion to $6.6 billion—close to a 25 percent increase. Lawmakers want us to believe that tax cuts caused the budget crisis, but these numbers show Topeka didn’t have a revenue problem, it had a spending problem.

And it still does. If lawmakers don’t get spending under control, this will happen again.

It’s time for Kansas lawmakers to do the hard work of governing, make tough choices and live within their means. Hardworking Kansans have budgets to keep. We can’t afford another bailout.

 

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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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