Archive for Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Tax proposal has run into foes

TABOR bus tour starts rolling

September 28, 2005


— Supporters of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights started a statewide bus tour Tuesday, 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," 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 growth to the inflation rate and refund taxes above that amount.

Alan Cobb, right, state director of the Kansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity, talks to people gathered at the Statehouse in Topeka on Tuesday to kick off "The American Dream Express" bus tour in support of the Taxpayer&squot;s Bill of Rights.

Alan Cobb, right, state director of the Kansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity, talks to people gathered at the Statehouse in Topeka on Tuesday to kick off "The American Dream Express" bus tour in support of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.

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.

Lines are drawn

On Tuesday, in competing news conferences and numerous informational packets, one thing was clear - the campaigns 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 the 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.

Colorado model

The amendment is patterned after one approved by Colorado voters in 1994. This year, however, facing a budget crisis, Coloradans 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.

Hitting the road

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.

Tawney Stottlemire, of Topeka, holds an anti-TABOR sign while debating Shirley Degener, of Topeka.

Tawney Stottlemire, of Topeka, holds an anti-TABOR sign while debating Shirley Degener, of Topeka.

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 Taxpayers Network, Americans for Tax Reform, National Taxpayers 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.

Bus schedule

The following is the bus schedule for the tour of supporters for the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. On Tuesday, the bus was scheduled to stop in Topeka, Manhattan, Salina, Russell, Hays and Colby.

¢ Today: 9 a.m.: Garden City 10:30 a.m.: Sublette 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Liberal 2:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. Dodge City 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.: Great Bend

¢ Thursday 9 a.m.: Hutchinson 10:30 a.m.: Wichita 11:45 a.m.: El Dorado 2:45 p.m.: Independence 4 p.m.: Chanute 5:10 p.m.: Parsons 6:30 p.m.: Pittsburg

¢ Friday 9 a.m.: Fort Scott 11 a.m.: Paola Noon to 1 p.m.: Olathe 1:30 p.m.: Shawnee 3 p.m.: Leavenworth


bkt_1977 12 years, 9 months ago

The Coalition for a Prosperous Kansas - which announced its formation yesterday and has member organizations ranging from AARP Kansas, to the Kansas National Education Association, to the United Methodist Church of Kansas - believes that TABOR will damage the Kansas quality of life by undermining the fundamental pillars of the Kansas economy: education and health care.

Jamesaust 12 years, 9 months ago

While I'm critical in general of government spending, there are a few points regarding this proposal in Kansas that are worth some reflection.

  1. We live in a fairly conservative, heavily Republican state. Why is it that a legislature wholly under the control of such interests is not capable of containing its appetite?

  2. Such a proposal is focused on revenue not spending. Constitutionally mandated spending and (practically) program participation spending must continue. So, Kansas, which constitutionally requires adequate spending on K-12 (as the Legislature has learned recently), will still have to come up with significantly higher dollars, sexual predators will still require expensive oversight, Medicaid still has to be paid for, etc. Since these types of programs are the largest and most rapidly increasing state expenses, they will in a decade or so consume virtually all of state spending.

  3. Don't believe they'll be any fairness in "refunds" of excess tax revenue. Just as government favors special interests in the spending of money, so can (and will) government play favorites in how they get rid of excess dollars - no doubt to the politically powerful. Don't the elderly deserve bigger refunds? How about farmers? Small business owners? Families (opposite sex, no doubt) with children. Hey, what about the middle class?

  4. The core concern about such a proposal in how it deals with economic recessions. Is the state freed from spending restraint during the periods when public needs are highest (during the recessions)? How would the state deal with a direct economic blow such as a significant drought effecting agriculture? Is the spending cap longterm (cumulative) or based on last year (non-cumulative)?

  5. Inflation indexing is fine in the short term but over time does not keep up with people's expectations for service delivery, which is tied to productivity and living standards. Yes, there would be no 'short fall' in spending over the last century if total revenues were limited to inflation. But the citizens would be shocked to find that the court clerk must write out everything in longhand rather than with a computer program (let alone a typewriter), and who among us wish to return to the 'life style' of no air conditioning in public buildings?

  6. Government not having revenue does not mean that less is spent -- think "unfunded mandates."

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