Window on the West
While I was paging through the governor’s proposed budget recently, I saw how funding from the state’s three casinos was proposed to be spent.
The Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., sent $25 million to the state of Kansas this past year in gaming taxes. How is it being spent and how will it be spent?
According to the budget document, the governor proposed to use $37.6 million in gaming revenues to reduce state debt in 2014 and $39.5 million in fiscal year 2015; $10.5 million would go to the university engineering initiative program; and $37.5 million for fiscal year 2014 and $39 million for 2015 for KPERS (pension) actuarial liability for school employees.
In fiscal 2012, according to the budget document, $42 million of these gaming revenues were transferred to the state general fund, but that was not recommended by the governor for 2014 and 2015.
But remember several years ago: One of the big selling points for voters who went to the polls and voted approval of the casino in Wyandotte County was reduction of property taxes with gaming revenues.
Property tax reduction was one of three purposes outlined in the legislation allowing the casinos. Reduction of state debt and state infrastructure improvements were some other uses. But this year’s focus in state government is on reduction of income taxes instead of property taxes.
Apparently, the state of Kansas has been operating just like a personal budget, a work of fiction many write every year. At the beginning of the year, goals are set for the expenditures of funds. During the year, everything comes up. The washing machine breaks and a new one is needed. A tire goes flat, and there goes the money allocated for entertainment. A wind storm blows the roof off and a new one is needed. A layoff hits and there goes the savings account. Someone needs new shoes or an unexpected doctor bill is due.
There’s really nothing wrong with changing your mind about your expenditures as they come up. Everyone does it. It’s just that in the future, Wyandotte County residents would be wiser not to trust anything that is promised to them. Who could blame Wyandotte County residents at this point from feeling that they were had when they thought their property taxes would be reduced?
To reach Mary Rupert, editor of Wyandotte Daily News, email firstname.lastname@example.org.