State Fiscal Briefs
Kansas’s budget basics
According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), Kansas’s total expenditures in fiscal year (FY) 2022 were $23.0 billion, including general funds, other state funds, bonds, and federal funds. NASBO reported that total expenditures across all states in FY 2022 were $2.9 trillion, ranging from $5.6 billion in Wyoming to $510.0 billion in California.
Each state allocates spending and taxes differently among different levels of governments, and local governments often administer programs with state funds, so combined state and local government data show a more complete picture of individual benefits and contributions when comparing states.
Per the US Census Bureau, Kansas’s combined state and local direct general expenditures were $29.3 billion in FY 2020 (the most recent year census data were available), or $9,992 per capita. (Census data exclude “business-like” activities such as utilities and transfers between state and local governments.) National per capita direct general expenditures were $10,540.
Kansas’s largest spending areas per capita were elementary and secondary education ($2,310) and public welfare ($1,751). The Census Bureau includes most Medicaid spending in public welfare but also allocates some of it to public hospitals. Per capita spending is useful for state comparisons but is an incomplete metric because it doesn’t provide any information about a state’s demographics, policy decisions, administrative procedures, or residents’ choices.
Kansas’s combined state and local general revenues were $30.8 billion in FY 2020, or $10,501 per capita. National per capita general revenues were $10,933. Kansas uses all major state and local taxes. Kansas’s largest sources of per capita revenue were charges ($2,352), such as state university tuition and highway tolls, and federal transfers ($2,123).
Governor Laura Kelly, a Democrat, was elected in 2022 with 49 percent of the vote. The next gubernatorial election is in 2026.
Kansas has a divided government. Republicans control both the House of Representatives (85 Republicans to 40 Democrats) and Senate (28 Republicans to 10 Democrats), with veto-proof majorities in both houses. All Kansas House seats are on the ballot in 2024 because representatives serve two-year terms. Senators serve four-year terms, and their seats are on the ballot in 2024.
Kansas’s budget institutions, rules, and constraints
Kansas uses an annual budget. The legislature must pass a balanced budget, but it can carry a deficit over into the following year. There are no additional tax and expenditure limits. There are, however, limits on total authorized debt and debt service incurred by the state.
(Note: Some states have informal budget institutions that constrain overall spending growth or a specific expenditure’s growth.)
Kansas’s current budget
Governor Kelly released her FY 2024 budget proposal and gave her state of the state address in January 2023.
Kansas enacted its FY 2023 budget in April 2022. The enacted budget included $22.9 billion in total spending and $9.2 billion in general fund spending. Kansas also enacted multiple tax cuts in both calendar years 2021 and 2022, including eliminating the state’s tax on grocery food (the tax will be phased out over mutlipe years).
Under the American Rescue Plan, Kansas will receive $1.6 billion in direct state fiscal aid and $826 million in local government aid from the federal government. As of January 2022, Kansas had spent part of its ARP funds on refilling its unemployment insurance trust fund.
According to NASBO, Kansas’s recent expenditure totals (general fund spending/total spending, including federal transfers) were:
- FY 2022: $9.3 billion/$23.0 billion
- FY 2021: $7.3 billion/$21.8 billion
- FY 2020: $7.5 billion/$19.4 billion
- FY 2019: $7.0 billion/$16.9 billion
For more on Kansas’s budget, see
Kansas’s economic trends
Kansas’s per capita income (per the Bureau of Economic Analysis) was $59,324 in 2021, ranking 25th among the states. It was below both the national average of $63,444 and the Plains regional average of $60,113. The state’s median household income (five-year estimate) was $64,521 in 2021, ranking 30th among the states and below the national average of $69,021. Kansas’s poverty rate was 11.5 percent in 2021 (five-year estimate), below the national rate of 12.6 percent.
Although Kansas’s averages tell a story about the entire state, Kansas is composed of diverse localities. For example, the city of Pittsburg’s median household income was $36,657, and its poverty rate was 29.2 percent; the city of Leawood’s median household income was $159,540, and its poverty rate was 2 percent.
Kansas’s unemployment rate has historically been below the national average, particularly following the Great Recession.
Unemployment rates (like other economic indicators) often vary significantly by race and ethnicity. In Kansas, the average unemployment rate in 2022 was 2.6 percent for white residents and 3.4 percent for Hispanic or Latino residents.