Archive for Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights bus tour under way in Kansas

September 27, 2005


— Supporters of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights started a statewide bus tour today, but opponents warned Kansans to steer clear of the budget-limiting proposal.

"The Kansas people should have an opportunity to be part of a citizen budget and not a bureaucratic budget," state Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, said in support of TABOR.

But Maren Turner, state director of AARP-Kansas, said, "While TABOR stands for the pleasant-sounding Taxpayer Bill of Rights, it is in fact a proposal that would be ruinous to the Kansas quality of life."

TABOR is a proposed constitutional amendment that would require voter approval of state tax increases, limit state spending to the inflation rate and refund taxes above that amount. To be adopted, the amendment would need two-thirds approval in the state House and Senate, and then be OK'd by voters in a statewide election.

Supporters hope to get the measure on the ballot in November 2006, although they concede there may not be two-thirds support in the Legislature to do that.

Alternatively, they have talked about possibly pushing for a new state law that would make it more difficult for the Legislature to increase taxes by requiring super majorities to raise rates.

Today, in competing news conferences, and numerous informational packets, one thing was clear the campaign for and against TABOR had started and the sides were clearly drawn.

On the pro-TABOR side were conservative legislators, conservative political consultants, anti-tax groups and several business organizations. They said the limit on state spending is needed to boost the economy and protect taxpayers.

On the anti-TABOR side were advocates for social services and education, including Success by 6 Coalition of Douglas County, labor groups and several religious organizations. They said the measure would result in cuts to schools, services for the elderly and disabled, and public safety.

The amendment is patterned after one approved by Colorado voters in 1994. This year, however, facing a budget crisis, Coloradoans are going to the polls to change the amendment by suspending the law for five years.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said the problems in Colorado should be instructive to Kansans.

"The Colorado experience has indicated that they have found it to be overly restrictive in terms of their ability to respond to growing population, higher education needs, parks and recreation.

"In fact, the governor of Colorado, who was at one point a leading proponent is now leading the charge to change the amendment dramatically. So it is wise for us not to just look at the theory but to look at the application," she said.

At the kickoff of the pro-TABOR bus tour, Landwehr and Alan Cobb, director of the Kansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity, were met by anti-TABOR protesters carrying signs, such as TABOR=10,000 Fewer Teachers, and TABOR=50,000 Kids With No Health Insurance.

At one point, several in the crowd shouted at Landwehr as she tried to speak. Landwehr asked them to be quiet and they did.

Landwehr said those opposed to TABOR represented special interest groups with paid lobbyists who were always asking the Legislature for more money.

The bus tour, dubbed the "American Dream Express" planned stops in 23 cities and towns over four days. Partners in the effort include Americans for Prosperity, Kansas Taxpayer's Network, Americans for Tax Reform, National Taxpayer's Union, Concerned Women of America, the Wichita Independent Business Assn., and

Later at a news conference, opponents of TABOR announced the formation of a new group called Coalition for a Prosperous Kansas that would work to defeat the measure.

Among others, this group included AARP-Kansas, Kansas chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Big Tent Coalition, Kansas Action for Children, Kansas AFL-CIO, Kansas Association of Local Health Departments, Kansas Association of Public Employees, Kansas Association of School Boards, Kansas Families United for Public Education, Kansas Health Consumers Coalition, Kansas National Education Association, United Methodist Church-Kansas and Inter-Faith Ministries.


Richard Heckler 12 years, 8 months ago

Funded by the Right

TABOR is a mutation of the Tax and Expenditure Limits (TELs) instituted in 28 states around the country over the past quarter-century, beginning with Proposition 4 in California in 1979. TABOR is like a conventional TEL on steroids: it has been pumped up with stricter spending limits and tighter restrictions on legislative action. Whereas TELs traditionally tied state government spending to faster-growing personal income, TABOR allows government budgets to grow only as fast as the population plus the inflation rate. Furthermore, TABOR applies the population-plus-inflation adjustment to the prior year's actual expenditures, not to allowable or budgeted expenditures. So, as the CBPP notes, "when state budgets grow slowly or fall, as in the recent fiscal crisis, actual spending or revenues are likely to be lower than the level permitted by the formula. If this lower level becomes the new base : then the level of public services is permanently ratcheted down." Colorado's TABOR, the only one in effect so far, was also designed to be hard to reverse: only a ballot measure approved by the state's voters can do so.

Most of the financial backing for TABOR initiatives has come from antitax fanatics like Grover Norquist, White House insider and intellectual author of the Bush tax cuts, or brothers Charles and David Koch of oil pipeline conglomerate Koch Industries, heirs to their father's company and fortune. As co-owners of their $40 billion corporation, the Kochs have used their staggering resources to start an ultraconservative think tank designed to pump out ideological broadsides disguised as policy studies. The Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) touts TABOR and other pieces of conservative legislation as overwhelming success stories, usually with validating data from like-minded (and like-funded) organizations. "It's no accident that TABOR's major champions : share many of the same free-market philosophies and goals. They also share many of the same funders-large corporate interests and right-wing private foundations-and in some cases, they share board members as well," concludes a 2005 report by the Bureau of National Affairs, a nonpartisan business news publisher.

erichaar 12 years, 8 months ago

Why do you think so many organizations stand so vehemently opposed to keeping taxes under control? It's the money they're after!

For many, the prospect of putting a cap on their taxpayer handouts is frightening. That's why they not only hold counter-press conferences to the scheduled TABOR press conference, but they send individuals to shout down Representative Landwehr.

Dani Davey 12 years, 8 months ago

Hey, LJWorld, what's a girl gotta do for a tour schedule!?!

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 12 years, 8 months ago

Our taxes are way out of control. The worst offenders are the school districts, but clearly something MUST be done. Our real estate taxes have increased $ 700 in the past 5-6 years. The school district is bleeding us dry. I am disabled and retired, and we live on a fixed income. There is a very real possibility if it continues, that we will lose our home and everything we have worked all our lives for. So I am in favor of anything that will give us some relief and protection. I have not investigated TABOR as of yet, but I support anything that will stem the flow of money for increasing taxes that are adversely affecting everyone. As bad as this situation is for us, I know elderly people that are in far worst situations. One lady I know had to sell her home, and live in the back of her business. Others have to decide whether to buy their medicine, or food. Although they won't admit it publically, many elderly people are eating pet food to pay for their medicines. Clearly the situation is in critical condition, and like has happened before in history the people will follow anyone that promises salvation from it. That is how people like Hitler rose to power. So don't make the mistake of underestimating the severity of it. Thank you, Lynn

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