Archive for Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Senate panel adjourns when tax increase comes up

April 21, 2010, 4:23 p.m. Updated April 21, 2010, 7:41 p.m.


During a break in a meeting Wednesday of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, state Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, displayed an anti-tax sign she pulled from her scrapbook that she found years ago when the Legislature had been considering a tax increase. The Ways and Means Committee recommended a state budget that requires $500 million in additional revenue and was considering various tax proposals.

During a break in a meeting Wednesday of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, state Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, displayed an anti-tax sign she pulled from her scrapbook that she found years ago when the Legislature had been considering a tax increase. The Ways and Means Committee recommended a state budget that requires $500 million in additional revenue and was considering various tax proposals.

— A Senate committee Wednesday recommended a budget that would require an estimated $500 million in additional revenue but then failed to approve the taxes to support it.

After three days of committee meetings, and hours of private conversations between legislators, Ways and Means Chairman Jay Emler, R-Lindsborg, abruptly ended the meeting, announcing, “We are adjourned until the 28th.” That is the first day of the Legislature’s wrap-up session.

Both Emler and vice chair Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, refused to comment further.

The committee breakdown is indicative of the tough political wrangling ahead for legislators as they deal with an estimated $500 million shortfall after the state budget has already been cut by nearly $1 billion.

Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said the committee results were disappointing. “If this committee can’t get it done, it can’t get done,” Hensley said.

Ways and Means member Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, said the budget hole is too deep to fill only with a tax increase. “I think we have to start all over,” she said, adding that more cuts are needed.

Schodorf said she is hearing from constituents that they can accept a one-cent increase in the state sales tax, but that when other levies are added to the mix, the tax package loses traction.

Emler had the staff prepare a proposal to increase the state sales, liquor, cigarette and tobacco taxes.

But Democrats say they want a tax increase that relies less on a sales tax increase and includes a new state income tax bracket for high-wager earners. Hensley that would be more fair.

Even so, Hensley said it wasn’t the tax deliberations that was holding up the committee, but some hard feelings over earlier votes on budget provisions.

Meanwhile a coalition, composed of education and social service groups, is advocating a tax and mend policy, saying more revenue is needed to repair deep budget cuts.

“The scenario before us today is not pretty,” said a statement from Kansans for Quality Communities. “An increase in taxes is appropriate and possible,” it said.

Gov. Mark Parkinson has proposed a temporary one-cent increase in the state sales tax from 5.3 cents per dollar to 6.3 cents per dollar, and a 55-cent per pack increase in the cigarette tax.

Parkinson says further cuts will inflict permanent damage on vital state services.

The coalition agreed and noted that 65 Kansans with disabilities have died while on state waiting lists for in-home services; 13,000 pregnant women have lost dental services under Medicaid cuts; and hundreds of teachers and support personnel will get non-renewal notices. “This is not trimming the fat; this is cutting the bone, amputating a limb,” the coalition said.


EyeonKansas 8 years, 2 months ago

Like Kansas families aren't already hurt??? Those most in need are dependent upon social services to make ends meet or remain living in their home. I am not wealthy enough to send my children to a private school... so although I'm not currently standing in line for food stamps or child care assistance I am in a situation where my children have no other option than to attend public school... which is a social service. I have elderly relatives that are dependent upon the home delivered meals programs to not only ensure they get one nutritionally prepared meal (otherwise they eat frozen banquet dinners) but their food budget is so tight they can't afford to purchase much in the way of food... another social service. At one time I was a foster parent and mostly took in teens, but quit because I couldn't afford to continue (teens go through a lot of food, hygiene supplies, etc!) So many of my former foster children have come back asking for help because they are having a hard time making ends meet and their bio-family is of little help. I can't afford to help them and there isn't many places to refer them because social service agencies have little funding available. The only way to fix this problem is to have an increase in revenue... and I'd rather see it as a sales tax, sin tax, and soda tax (the "S-taxes") than any other option I've seen proposed thus far. Oh... and I also support the NF bed tax provided the tax is kept with NF budget and not swept out by the legislators to another agency or program.

mr_right_wing 8 years, 2 months ago

I have no problem with what I will call 'voluntary taxes'...a tax on alcohol is not one I have to pay since I don't drink, and if you don't like it -- quit drinking -- simple. A tax (huge one at that) on cigarettes is not one I have to pay since I don't smoke, and if you don't like it -- quit smoking (I realize easier said than done). I'll even propose another 'voluntary tax'; why, why, why are we not putting a sizable tax on pornography....add a sales tax to that, extra taxes for strip clubs, for websites and for adult videos. If a bunch of pervs want to whine and moan, so be it. Tax porn, tax porn, tax porn and I say it porn!!

mr_right_wing 8 years, 2 months ago

....I forgot....add an extra 50-cent tax to every (porn) magazine as well!!

remember_username 8 years, 2 months ago

Extra taxes on strip clubs? You mean a pole tax?

mr_right_wing 8 years, 2 months ago

HA! Very witty.

You know, I e-mailed every one of my reps and all it got me was put on a bunch of mailing lists! My contact info is probably the only thing they gave any attention to.

Kent Shrack 8 years, 2 months ago

Every time I run short on my budget, I just walk in to see my boss and tell him I need more money because I spent more that I had. He gladly just gives me more money. OH wait, that was a dream, not real.

Mary Sucha 8 years, 2 months ago

Can't disagree with your comment, but that isn't what has been happening at the capitol for the last 15 years.

A better analogy might be - if over the last number of years you had donated 15% of your wages to, at the time, worthy causes, would you stop donating as much in order to balance your budget or lobby your boss for a wage increase?

situveux1 8 years, 2 months ago

Not true at all. The biggest "cut" spending proponents point to is a 15 mill reduction in property taxes for education that happened in 1995. Even with this cut, property tax revenue to the state increased 92% from 1995 to 2008 while at the same time the consumer price index rose around 42%.

Further, this mill levy reduction was enacted as a result of property revaluation that began in the late 1980's and early 1990's. Because property values were raised significantly, and thus revenue to the state was set to increase significantly as well (otherwise known as a tax increase), the mill levy was reduced so that revaluation was revenue neutral. If the mill levy had remained at 35 mills rather than 20, property tax revenue to the state would have increased by 122% rather than 92%, again in comparison to a consumer price index increase of 42% during the same time period.

When spending advocates point to this levy adjustment and say this is an example of a tax break the state shouldn't have given out, essentially they are saying that taxes to the state should have increased at nearly three times the rate of inflation rather than the actual two times we saw.

I don't agree that government revenue should increase at this rate.

Mary Sucha 8 years, 2 months ago

The statewide mill levy for schools went in to effect with school reform legislation in 1992. The mill levy was set at 32 mills and increased to 35 mills. The school mill levy was decreased in 1998 to 20 mills.

Property reappraisal happened in 1986, the school mill levy wasn't enacted until 1992. During reappraisal in 1986, property taxes statewide did not increase significantly. The legislature at the time placed a lid on property taxes. What happened was a redistribution of who paid property taxes.

Property taxes are climbing because the state and locals have cut the property tax base with exemptions and the state has drasticly reduced the revenue sharing programs with local governments to balance the state budget. Thus, property taxes go up.

gccs14r 8 years, 2 months ago

We used to get a big chunk of federal assistance to supplement the state budget. W cut that. The Legislature never increased state taxes to make up the difference, and now all that procrastination has come back to bite us.

truman1902 8 years, 2 months ago

Seems an appropriate opportunity for those Republicans with blinders, shielding themselves from the glare of developmental disabilities waiting lists, to show some compassion, raise up their hands and say to not-so-fortunate Kansans, that we've cut enough. Grow a man-sack & balance the budget with the governors' proposal. You'll create positive headlines, for which you'll readily take credit for once the decision is made to raise funds and the national media makes a fuss! Stop the whining.and sail this ship out of the harbor..Your positions as state senators and representatives are rented--NOT owned! Get over yourselves!

eric1889 8 years, 2 months ago

Mr. Right Wing, your proposed tax on strip clubs can never go into effect because our government has pretty much shut them down with recent legislation. Thus, even more people will rely on the same social services that they want to cut.

situveux1 8 years, 2 months ago

This article is somewhat disingenuous. While Gov. Parkinson has indeed cut spending, it is closer to $600 million rather than $1 billion. The $1 billion figure that Parkinson and the media quote so often is actually based off of his proposed FY2011 budget, which wanted a 7% increase in spending from the current fiscal year. It's disingenuous at best and dishonest at worst, to propose additional spending and then claim it's been cut when the Legislature says 7% isn't possible in today's economy.

It's also a half truth to say the 1% sales tax increase would be temporary. Under the current proposal only part of it is temporary, 0.2% would remain even after 3 years to fund transportation projects.

Further, in 2002 then Gov. Graves also proposed an increase in the sales tax that passed. It went from 4.9% to 5.3% to solve our last budget crisis and this was to be "temporary." Then in 2004, when it was set to expire, legislators made it permanent. I have no doubt in 3 years, if this proposal passes, that this tax increase will be made permanent as well.

Paul R Getto 8 years, 2 months ago

As we watch this spin out, perhaps into the ditch, we need to regularly remind ourselves this is a manufactured budget crisis, brought to you by your legislature. The economy is off, but the efforts to cut income for the past 10-15 years were deliberate and based on some pretty phony 'logic.' If the "Hundred Tax Cuts" would make the flowers bloom (sorry Mao), the people who proposed them were not correct in their analysis. Dumping all the sales tax exemptions, for example, would bring in billions more per year and allow the sales tax rates to be lowered for everyone.

supercowbellninja 8 years, 2 months ago

so, why aren't we taxing soda/soft drinks again?

fly_on_wall 8 years, 2 months ago

I think there is a bill out to tax sugary drinks. I heard on the radio an anti tax commercial from the beverage lobby. I'm all for it.

remember_username 8 years, 2 months ago

Okay let's think of this logically, What does Kansas have a lot of that we could tax? Wheat? Beef? Grass? Let's see...Kansas is flat ... Kansas has a whole bunch of Flat...That's it we should have a Flat Tax!

gccs14r 8 years, 2 months ago

Flat taxes are great if you're rich and completely sucky if you're poor. If you're going to have one, it needs to tax all income from all sources (capital gains, inheritance, retirement, wages, salaries, tips, lottery winnings, etc.) equally, but exempt the first $30,000 or so to keep from drowning the poor.

remember_username 8 years, 2 months ago

Um...I was searching for something to laugh about...because I was running out of faith in humanity. The only other thing I had involved hitchhikers and thumb tax.

Brent Garner 8 years, 2 months ago

Actually, back in the '90s just such a tax was proposed by a member of Congress from of those accursed, never to be sufficiently condemned conservative republicans. His proposal was then that a flat tax be implemented such that the typical family of 4 which is cited so often would pay no tax on the first 30,000 of income. Then all income would be taxed at 17%. Your tax form would have been the size of a postcard. But, no one was willing to take him seriously because it would have meant giving up all their cherished deductions so the idea died. Is it time to resurrect it?

Scruggsy 8 years, 2 months ago

When the going gets tough, the Legislature goes home... They are an embarassment to this state.

Brent Garner 8 years, 2 months ago

I am also offended that whenever any group wants money it seems they go running to the government--city, county, state, or federal--with a hand out asking for money. News flash folks! Governments don't have any money of their own. The only money they have is money they have taken out of your pocket. I am tired of my pocket being picked! Its getting pretty empty!

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