TOPEKA, Kan. -- The numbers are in for Kansas tax revenues in February, and the state has tallied yet another month in the red, this time to the tune of nearly $50 million.
The state's tax revenue fell $49.9 million below estimates, officials said Tuesday. While a tax shortfall is nothing new for Kansas recently -- the state has reached targets only once, in November, in the past year -- the magnitude of this deficit creates a more urgent need for budget action for the Kansas legislature and Gov. Sam Brownback.
"The state of Kansas is in crisis," House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs (D-Kansas City), said according to the Topeka Capital-Journal. "Our schools, our infrastructure, our safety -- the very future of our state is at stake. It is time for Kansans to stand up and demand the Republican majority change course and fix the mess they've created."
The latest numbers made February the worst month when comparing to estimates since the $47 million shortfall in January 2015. The state missed its target by just $6.8 million in January of 2016.
Kansas Republicans blamed a stagnant national economy and fluctuations in the energy industry, while Democrats pointed to private tax breaks for individuals and businesses, which have been a cornerstone of Brownback's political agenda.
"For months," Burroughs said, "Democrats have called on Governor Brownback and his Republican allies in the Kansas Legislature to end the economic experiment. The revenue numbers released today reveal the true damage of their fiscal mismanagement."
Brownback released a statement Tuesday outlining his priorities for balancing the budget.
“This is an economic problem, not a tax policy problem. Our tax policy has been instrumental in creating more than 80,000 jobs since we took office and has resulted in a record number of Kansans working," Brownback said.
The governor remained firm that he would not raise taxes.
“In balancing the budget, I will not support or call for a tax increase on small business in Kansas. My focus is on managing spending, not on raising taxes. Our goal is not to fund the growth of state government; it is to help the Kansas economy grow."