On the same day the state announced February revenues fell $53 million short of estimates in Kansas, Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan addressed the issue at a gathering of the Northeast Johnson County Conservatives group.
“It makes no sense,” Jordan said of the February numbers. “This has got us a little bit baffled.” Jordan cited a number of trends that show positive results from the state’s current tax policy. Chief among those is a 3.9 percent unemployment rate that Jordan said is the lowest in 14 years.
Jordan said the current tax policy has reduced income tax rates by 30 percent for individuals, families and small businesses and that 71 percent of the tax savings have gone to individuals and families while only 29 percent have gone to small businesses.
Individual income taxes have been growing year over year, Jordan said, until it hit the February downturn. Corporate income taxes are running under estimates by $11.4 million and sales tax receipts are down 1.7 percent, he said.
Jordan told the group of about 20 conservatives gathered for the monthly meeting that economic declines in agriculture and oil are hurting Kansas and surrounding states. That aside, he said Kansas has added 18,340 small business tax filers. He said 81 percent of those new filers have a net income of less than $25,000. “Most small businesses stay where they are started,” he said.
“I spent most of the afternoon with media folks,” Jordan said, referring to the release of the new revenue estimates. The state is approximately $84.2 million under estimates for state general fund receipts.
Everyone knew the governor wanted lower taxes from the day he was elected, Jordan said, but you can’t get there right away. He said Governor Brownback has “a heart for the poor.” Citing the tax credits for lower income Kansans, he said, “I don’t know how you can say that is pounding on the poor.”
“The purpose of the tax plan is to put more money in (your) pocket,” Jordan said. “You won’t have as much revenue.”
Appearing with Jordan at the event was Kansas Secretary of Commerce Antonio Soave. He said the 3.9 percent unemployment rate now is making it hard to fill some jobs. “That shows that our policies have been very effective,” he said. Quality of life is the selling point for the commerce department, he said. “Johnson County is the best place that I’ve ever lived.”