Daily Archives: June 4, 2013

State budget covers shortfall, but not for long

It took 99 days (nine more than the 90-day allotment and 19 more than legislative leaders said would be needed) for lawmakers to agree to set the state sales tax at 6.15 percent instead of allowing it to fall to 5.7 percent on July 1 as promised, our editorial Tuesday noted. Along with a phasedown of income-tax deductions, the tax increase is expected to raise about $777 million over the next five years. The extra revenue will help cover the shortfall created by last year’s tax cuts, but it won’t eliminate the state’s budget problems. Estimates show the state burning through its cash balances by 2018. And that doesn’t factor in the likelihood that the Kansas Supreme Court will order an increase in K-12 funding of about $500 million.

Encourage water conservation, but plan ahead, too

Recent improvements in Cheney Reservoir levels have prompted the city to table the controversial ideas of imposing $1,000 fines or 500 percent rate increases on heavy water users. Instead, Tuesday’s Wichita City Council meeting will include consideration of proposed conservation incentives for homes and businesses, such as a $100 rebate for buying a high-efficiency dishwasher or installing a weather sensor on a sprinkler system. Such a positive, proactive approach seems wise and necessary. But recent rains will only slow Wichita’s long-term water-supply problem, and the city must plan ahead to avert any crisis. Meanwhile, city officials need to continue to vet the proposed punitive measures, which raise questions about fairness, logistics and efficacy.