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Kansas budget issues ‘likely to persist’ after tax hike

Associated Press - July 9, 2017 8:06 am

A top Democratic lawmaker says he is joining the crowded race to replace Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. House Minority Leader Jim Ward of Wichita announced his candidacy Saturday. He had named former Democratic Party chairman Lee Kinch as his campaign treasurer earlier this week.

A major financial rating agency says a structural imbalance in Kansas’ budget is “likely to persist” even after the state increased income taxes.

S&P Global Ratings said in a report this week that while the state boosted its revenues, it also increased spending for the next two years. S&P also said the state still is diverting money from highway projects to sustain other spending and is not fully funding contributions to public pensions.

S&P did not change its negative credit outlook for Kansas.

Legislators enacted the tax increase over Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto to raise $1.2 billion over two years. The new law rolls back past tax cuts Brownback championed.

The S&P report came a month after Moody’s Investors Service upgraded the state’s credit outlook to stable from negative.