There has been concern that the tax cuts signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback will prevent adequate funding of schools, social services and public safety and other areas of the state budget. Do you support or oppose the tax cuts?
Despite fervent opposition, Sam Brownback in May signed into law a
massive $3.7 billion tax cut that will ravage our state coffers while
shifting the tax burden onto working Kansans.
Governor Brownback claims these tax cuts will help create jobs and grow
the economy, but he is wrong. No-income tax states performed the same
or worse than states with high income taxes on measures such as economic
output, unemployment, and household income. And states without an
income tax have higher sales or property taxes, on average, than states
with an income tax.
While Governor Brownback is focused on tax breaks to special interests
and the wealthiest Kansans, he’s refused to address Kansas’ real tax
problem – property taxes. Kansans already pay more in property taxes
than 40 other states. But Governor Brownback’s plan eliminates income
taxes for nearly all non-wage earners, meaning property taxes will have
to increase to make up the difference.
It’s happened in other no-income states. It will happen in Kansas.
Instead of cutting income taxes for the wealthiest Kansans, I believe
that tax cuts should be provided first and foremost to working Kansas
families. That’s why, this year, I proposed $180 million in targeted
property tax relief for working Kansans. Unfortunately, Governor
Brownback and his allies stopped this plan.
In May, the Topeka Capital Journal published a guest column I wrote
titled “It’s a tax shift”, which encompasses my thoughts on taxes. You
can read it here:
Next session, I would like to see the food sales tax rebate and the
child care tax credit restored. These rebates help low-income working
families and seniors on fixed incomes, who are disproportionately
affected by tax cuts to the wealthy.
I also believe that the state should keep the promise we made to sunset
the 0.6 % temporary sales tax increase. The remainder will help sustain
a transportation program now threatened by Governor Brownback’s tax
plan, create thousands of jobs for Kansas workers, create investment
opportunities in every Kansas county, and bring $6.4 billion to our
state economy within the next decade.
The state is the target of a lawsuit that alleges the Legislature has shirked its constitutional duty to adequately fund public schools. Does the state need to increase funding to public schools? Please explain your answer.
Yes. The state should invest more in public schools.
Sam Brownback’s tax plan will prevent the legislature from restoring
school funding cuts, forcing us to cut even more, and forcing local
school districts to lay off teachers, increase fees, and increase class
sizes to make ends meet.
Kansas schools have already endured seven rounds of devastating cuts in
just three years. As a result, base state aid per pupil is now $530
below 2009 levels while school district general fund budgets are nearly
9% below 2009.
Because local units of government and schools rely on the same tax base,
Sam Brownback’s plan will dramatically increase local property taxes.
Instead of giving a tax cut to the wealthy and to corporations, we
should work to fully fund our schools, keeping class sizes down and
ensuring top quality teachers are in our classrooms.
To begin restoring cuts to Kansas public schools, I introduced a bill
this session that would have adequately and fairly funded all schools
without overhauling the current formula. Senate Bill 350 would have
begun restoring these cuts immediately by properly funding the current
formula while protecting essential weightings for at-risk students.
In just three years, my plan would have restored funding by $267 per
student while at the same time holding the line on local property tax
increases. And by restoring cuts incrementally, school boards would have
been given the certainty they need to plan for the most urgent needs
facing their local schools.
Although this plan failed to receive approval this year, I will continue
to pursue this solution. I believe it’s our best option to adequately
fund the state’s current formula without throwing away years of
What is your top priority if elected, and what would you do to get that done?
Job Creation and Retention is my top priority.
The most significant jobs package passed by the Kansas Legislature in
the last decade has been 2009’s T-Works program. Three separate
economic studies showed that the program will create 175,000 jobs in the
next ten years.
Instead of creating new tax breaks for Kansans earning more than
$250,000 a year, the legislature must maintain our commitment to the
state’s 10-year transportation program.
We should also do more to keep projects here in Kansas. Kansas tax
dollars shouldn’t be going to hire workers from other states when there
are workers right here in Kansas that can perform the job.
This December I helped introduce a pro-jobs plan that included 14
pro-worker initiatives. One of those initiatives was the Hire Kansans
First Act, which would require any contractor or subcontractor working
on a state contract worth $100,000 or more annually to ensure that at
least 70% of those employees working on the contract are Kansas
residents (percentages will differ in the Kansas City metro area).
Additionally, any company seeking benefits under any of the following
tax incentive programs also must employ at least a 70% Kansas workforce:
Promoting Employment Across Kansas Act (PEAK), the High Performance
Incentive Program (HPIP), the Business and Jobs Development Tax Credit,
and the Sales Tax and Revenue Bond Program (STAR Bonds).