Kansas’s official Consensus Revenue Estimating Group adopted a revised forecast last week that raised expectations for collections in fiscal 2012 by $199 million. The increase to $6.25 billion is up 11% from fiscal 2011 collections.

The revenue group adopted a preliminary estimate of $6.29 billion for fiscal 2013, up $46 million from the revised 2012 forecast.

Tax collections will be up 4.9% in fiscal 2013, the group said, following a 5.9% increase in 2012 collections.

Alan Conroy, director of the Legislative Research Department, told the forecasting group that the state’s unemployment rate, which has been about 7% in 2011, should drop slightly next year.

Conroy said increases in income tax withholdings indicate that hiring is picking up.

State general fund revenues in fiscal 2011 totaled $5.88 billion, according to final figures provided to the estimating group by the budget division.

The revenue estimate will be the basis of the fiscal 2013 budget that Gov. Sam Brownback and the Legislature will develop when lawmakers convene in Topeka in January. The revenue estimating group will meet in April to revise the current prediction.

Brownback said he would soon reveal details of a revised tax plan that would make Kansas more competitive with neighboring states. Brownback said he was encouraged by the group’s most optimistic forecast since 2008.

“The latest revenue projections show the power of economic growth and controlling spending,” he said. “It proves the long-term solution for our state involves more jobs and limited government.”

The Kansas House adopted a plan earlier this year to lower the state’s income tax rate when collections exceed certain levels, but it failed to make it out of the Senate.

Democratic legislators want the state to use the additional revenues to restore cuts to public education budgets. State funding that had been targeted at $4,430 per student was reduced to $3,080 in fiscal 2011 due to sagging revenues.

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