Topeka — The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce has rejected joining a coalition of other local chambers that have called for a tax increase to help the state out of its current budget crisis.
The Lawrence chamber’s board of directors decided Wednesday not to sign onto a letter that had been distributed by 14 other chambers to top state officials.
In that March letter, those chambers said relying only on further budget cuts would harm basic services that provide the quality of life that helps economic development.
“If revenue must be enhanced for basic government services, our chambers can support rational state revenue enhancements,” the letter said. The position was in direct opposition to the statewide Kansas Chamber, which has called for no tax increases.
The state has cut nearly $1 billion from what was once a $6.4 billion budget, and still faces an estimated $500 million revenue shortfall, which must be addressed during the wrap-up session that started Wednesday.
But the Lawrence chamber said the coalition’s call for revenue enhancements was “vague and open-ended.” The board also said it was unsure how any potential tax increase would effect businesses and the community.
“While we appreciate the intention of the letter, our members believe that the lack of clarity in the current language is problematic,” said Matthew Hoy, chairman of the board of directors.
Hoy said the chamber supports public schools and higher education and it encourages Gov. Mark Parkinson and the Legislature to provide adequate funding to them.
“We support a strong educational system at both the K-12 and university level. It is good for the community and good for business,” Hoy said.
The chambers that signed the tax-increase letter were Arkansas City, Dodge City, Emporia Area, Grant County, Greater Kansas City, Greater Topeka, Hutchinson-Reno County, Hays Area, Kansas City, Kan., Manhattan Area, Northeast Johnson County, Olathe, Overland Park and Salina Area.