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Report Finds Kansas Tax Cuts Harm Health Preparedness

Tax cuts in Kansas have "landed with a thud," according to the co-author of a report that criticizes the state's actions for harming public services and sapping the state's long-term economic vitality. 

The report, which was released by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, says massive tax cuts enacted by Kansas lawmakers in 2012 have left the state's schools, public health departments and other public services "stuck in the recession." 

It notes that funding in 2013 for local health departments was down 14 percent from 2008 levels, harming their ability to provide immunizations and physical examinations for children. 

The report's co-author, Michael Leachman, was in Kansas City to speak to local foundation executives on Tuesday. Leachman, the center's director of state fiscal research, told KCUR that the funding cuts threatened preparedness for health emergencies.

"Cuts in funding to health departments can have serious implications for a local government's ability to respond when there is a disease outbreak," he says. 

Kansas lawmakers in 2012 passed some of the most far-reaching tax cuts enacted by any state in the country.

Leachman's report says the cuts this year have cost Kansas "about 8 percent of the revenue it uses to fund schools, health care and other public services, a hit comparable to a mid-sized recession."

The report says the revenue loss will double to 16 percent in five years if the tax cuts are not reversed. 

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback's office countered that his administration has "created a competitive advantage for Kansas."

"We have grown jobs, reduced unemployment and invested in education," Brownback spokeswoman Cassie Sparks said in an email to KCUR.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-profit research group based in Washington, D.C., focuses on the impact of  budget and tax policies.

Dan Margolies has been a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star, and KCUR Public Radio. He retired as a reporter in December 2022 after a 37-year journalism career.
As a health care reporter, I aim to empower my audience to take steps to improve health care and make informed decisions as consumers and voters. I tell human stories augmented with research and data to explain how our health care system works and sometimes fails us. Email me at alexs@kcur.org.
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