Topeka In recent years, Kansas legislators have been looking at proposed changes to the state tax structure as a way to squeeze out more revenue to pay for services in the face of historic revenue deficits.
The incoming administration of Gov.-elect Sam Brownback, however, is looking at ways to cut taxes in a way officials say will improve the economy and bring in the revenue needed to pay for state government.
Nick Jordan, Brownback’s appointee as secretary of revenue, said the administration hoped to develop “comprehensive tax policy” for legislators to consider when the 2011 session starts next month.
The idea is to encourage business growth and increase personal income, Jordan said.
That fits with Brownback’s statements last week. Referring to his campaign theme, Brownback, a Republican, said, “We laid out in detail our Road Map for Kansas that highlighted how we would create a globally competitive business environment through improved regulations, controlled spending and lower tax rates.”
House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, was speaking off the same page earlier in the week.
“I want to have a full-blown debate on tax policy,” he said. O’Neal said that could include reductions in the state personal and corporate income taxes.
When asked how taxes could be cut — given the state’s looming $500 million deficit — O’Neal said the Legislature needed to explore ways to cut taxes as a way to boost the economy. With economic growth, the necessary tax revenue takes care of itself, he said.
During the last legislative session, lawmakers wrestled with the idea of eliminating some of the current state sales tax exemptions as a way to raise revenue, but the proposals never gained traction.
Some conservative Republicans have said the best way to provide tax relief is to repeal the 1-cent increase in the state sales tax that was approved during the last session and went into effect July 1. That increased the state sales tax from 5.3 cents per dollar to 6.3 cents per dollar.
But Brownback opposes that idea, saying the full increase lasts only three years and then the rate goes down to 5.7 percent with a portion of that helping fund the state’s transportation plan.
He has said that controlling government spending and changing tax policy will be key.
“Our state still faces a nearly half-billion-dollar deficit. We are going to need to make some very difficult decisions,” the governor-elect said.