Kansas Governor Sam Brownback defends tax cuts in State of the State address

Posted at 4:52 PM, Jan 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-10 23:20:28-05

The Latest on Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback's annual State of the State address and budget issues.

6:40 p.m.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback says he'll propose some "one-time measures" to help balance the state's current budget.

Brownback wasn't more specific Tuesday evening in speaking with reporters after his annual State of the State address. He plans to release the details of his budget proposals Wednesday.

RELATED: Kansas lawmakers to repeal LLC tax exemption

The state faces a projected shortfall of $342 million in its current budget. Lawmakers don't think they can raise taxes quickly enough to fill the gap before the fiscal year ends June 30.

One-time accounting moves would allow the state to avoid immediate spending cuts.

In recent weeks, legislators have talked about borrowing against the assets of a $320 million state investment fund or liquidating it all together.

Brownback promised in his speech that his proposals will balance the budget through June 2019.

6:20 p.m.

Brownback is challenging universities in Kansas to allow students to earn a bachelor's degree and pay only $15,000 in total costs.

Brownback issued the challenge in his annual State of the State address Tuesday evening. He said Kansas residents deserve affordable college educations.

He also said his budget proposals would finance 50 student scholarships for the first university to meet the challenge. He did not provide more details.

The least expensive state university is Fort Hays. A full-time undergraduate student from Kansas pays $2,442 in tuition and required fees. That would be $19,535 over four years.

Senate Vice President Jeff Longbine questioned whether the idea is workable and said he is concerned about lowering academic standards for an inexpensive degree. The Emporia Republican's district includes Emporia State University.

5:05 p.m.

The Kansas Senate's top Democrat says Republican Brownback remains "in denial" about the damage his fiscal policies have done to families and communities.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka described Brownback's economic policies Tuesday evening as "debilitating."

Hensley was giving the official Democratic response to the governor's annual State of the State address.

Brownback defended an income tax break enacted in 2012 that benefits more than 330,000 farmers and business owners as a pro-growth policy. Even some Republican legislators want to repeal it to help close the state's budget shortfalls.

Hensley called for reversing that policy and other personal income tax cuts enacted by Republican legislators in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback's urging to stimulate the economy. The state has struggled to balance its budget since.

5 p.m.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says he will propose "modest, targeted" tax increases to help address the state's serious budget problems.

But during his annual State of the State address Tuesday evening, the Republican governor strongly defended an income tax break that some GOP lawmakers want to end.

Brownback also told a joint session of the Republican-controlled Legislature that he will outline budget "efficiencies."

And he cautioned lawmakers against expanding the state's Medicaid program in line with the 2010 federal health care overhaul. President-elect Donald Trump and congressional Republicans are planning to repeal the health care law.

Kansas faces projected budget shortfalls totaling $1.1 billion through June 2019. The state has struggled to balance its budget since Republican legislators slashed personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback's urging. 



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