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Kansas revenue secretary expects more optimistic revenue projections ahead of new forecast

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TOPEKA, Kansas — New projections Kansas officials were drafting Thursday are likely to show the state on pace for higher tax revenues than initially thought through June 2015, Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan said.

The state was seeing better-than-expected revenue collections before Jordan and other state officials had a private meeting to discuss the fiscal forecast. Also ahead of the meeting, the Kansas Department of Labor issued a positive report about employment, showing the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate holding steady at 4.9 percent and the number of private-sector, nonfarm jobs growing slightly in March compared with March 2013.

The forecasters scheduled a Thursday afternoon news conference to release the new fiscal forecast. The current forecast, issued in November, projects state revenues of about $5.9 billion, both during the current fiscal year and again during the next one, which starts in July.

"I think we'll increase some revenue numbers," Jordan said just before the forecasters convened.

Brownback and legislators will use the new forecast in making budget decisions after lawmakers return April 30 from their annual spring break to wrap up their business for the year. The forecasting group includes Department of Revenue officials, members of Brownback's budget stuff, legislative researchers and university economists.

Since July 2013, the state has collected $141 million more than anticipated, or 3.6 percent more than the official forecast.

However, through March, total revenues were $242 million, or 5.6 percent, behind collections from the previous fiscal year because of personal income tax cuts enacted at Brownback's urging in 2011 and 2012 to boost the state economy. Before the forecasters met, the Legislature's research staff projected that a budget shortfall would emerge by July 2016.

Democrats have argued that the tax cuts aren't boosting the economy as much as Brownback promised they would, jeopardizing funding for public schools, social services and other government programs.

The Department of Labor's latest employment report said that the seasonally adjusted number for Kansans holding private-sector, non-farm jobs grew by more than 17,000 in March compared with March 2013, an increase of 1.6 percent, to almost 1.13 million.


Online:

Report on employment in Kansas: http://1.usa.gov/J8Lr8F


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