A potpourri of thoughts on state and local government.
I note the Kansas Senate voted 30-1 on April 6 against a 1 percent sales tax increase to be used to roll back school property taxes by 28 percent. A favorite argument against sales tax is that the poor cannot afford to pay an increase in sales tax. I have a son living in Texas, where they have a 6 percent state sales tax, but groceries are exempt. Lower-income people spend most of their income on groceries. Therefore, if groceries were exempt from the sales tax in Kansas, no one could accurately call sales tax regressive. Texas also has no state income tax. I have another son living in Washington state, where their sales tax is 7.9 percent. Groceries are exempt and they also have no state income tax.
The legislature is controlled by lobbyists. A recent newspaper article noted there are 492 registered lobbyists in Kansas. I belong to the Kansas Pharmaceutical Assn., and each month they plead to their members for donations which will be spent on lobbyists. I am proud to say that in nearly 30 years of membership I have yet to contribute a dime to that action.
On April 7, the Senate finally approved a tax relief amendment. The question in my mind is for whom that relief is intended. Assessment relief is as follows: homeowner, 0.5 percent; commercial property, 10 percent; non-profit fraternal lodges, 18 percent; golf courses reduced from 30 percent to the rate of farmland. I live adjacent to Alvamar golf courses and have never seen any cows or horses grazing within the courses. Inventory tax is still exempt. Hurray for Hallmark, KPL, et.al. I suspect that most states have a tax on inventories. Fortunately the house has not yet acted on this amendment.
The city commission was hoodwinked the taxpayers again with the millions of dollars spent on the so-called riverfront outlet development. No one seems to know how many dollars were spent. Mike Rundle would like a study to determine the amount. It seems to me that an adequate computer system would spit out those figure in minutes. If they do hire a consultant to determine it, let's hope they listen more attentively than they did to the consultant hired to find a new city manager.
A personal note: I was a businessman here in Lawrence for 27 years and was not courageous to write a letter like this, fearful that I may lose a customer. Shame on me!
William H. McNary,
2105 Quail Creek.