Who Pays? The Cost of Kansas’ Tax Cuts for Local Communities

  • December 1, 2013
  • Staff Report

Kansas has sharply reduced state support for schools, libraries and other community services in recent years, forcing towns and cities to cut programs that Kansans depend upon or raise more money locally to sustain them. While the cuts by the state were initially prompted by the Great Recession, the substantial income tax cuts Kansas lawmakers enacted in 2012 and 2013 are draining even more resources and making it nearly impossible to replace vital aid to Kansas communities.

Since the recession hit in 2008:

  • State aid for schools is down 8 percent, after adjusting for inflation, and state funding to help teachers improve their skills has been eliminated. These cuts are leading schools to increase class sizes; lay off teachers, counselors, nurses, and school librarians; and pass more costs on to parents by raising fees for school activities all coming at a time when a well-educated workforce is more important than ever to prospective employers.
  • State support for libraries has been cut by over 30 percent, forcing reductions in operating hours, cutbacks in book purchases, or the establishment of waiting lists for summer reading programs. In some areas, libraries are the only resource many people have for filling out online job applications and furthering their education.
  • State aid for local health services is down more than 12 percent. Local health departments play a key role in providing health services, such as childhood immunizations, and addressing health emergencies in both rural and urban communities across Kansas.
  • State support for community-based corrections has been cut by 21 percent. This vital program is helping make neighborhoods safe and reducing the number of repeat offenders, ultimately saving taxpayers money.

These deep cuts pose a serious problem for the state’s ability to compete in the future. Our economy, and the health of our towns and cities, depends on wise investments in the education, health, and safety of our people.