Kansas economy is poised for big things. Let's not mess it up now.
Against all odds, Kansas appears to be in a positive economic position this year.
New figures from the Consensus Revenue Estimate suggest the state will be doing $361 million better this fiscal year and next than expected. Federal aid from the American Recovery Plan is on the way, boosting both cities and the state.
If lawmakers in Washington, D.C., get their act together, we may also see additional spending on infrastructure.
Atop all of that, widespread adoption of the COVID-19 vaccine could finally tame the pandemic that has challenged so many of us.
What does it all mean? It suggests that 2021 and 2022 could be banner years for the state economy.
But it also means that folks in Topeka have a duty to be responsible.
First off, senators and representatives must avoid the siren’s song of tax cuts for rich folks and big companies — most of whom sailed through the pandemic with nary a scratch.
It’s amazing to reflect that so few of our leaders seem to have learned the lesson of just a few years ago: Giant tax cuts have long-term negative consequences. A tailored plan might make less of an impact on the budget, but let’s focus on building up rather than tearing down.
For example, how do we scale up critical infrastructure projects, such as building broadband capacity, throughout the state? How do we make sure to hire the most qualified people to guide Kansas into the future? How do we administer all the federal relief dollars coming in?
We must focus on this challenge now, because we can’t wait for the money to arrive and then make it up as we go along. We definitely don’t want to be in a position to refuse sorely needed federal dollars or leave them languishing.
And finally, we plead with the Legislature and Gov. Laura Kelly to work together.
Lawmakers are apparently working on how to cut out the governor from having any say in how the federal dollars are distributed. This is nonsensical and petty. Regardless of her input up front, Kelly’s branch of government will have a critical role in administering the flow of dollars. It only makes sense that she be included.
Kansas has a real opportunity here. We not only are coming out of the pandemic and associated economic turmoil in good shape, but we also might be able to build a robust economy for the future.
Let’s not mess it up.