Archive for Friday, January 15, 2010

Tax increase needed, county legislators say

Lawmakers oppose governor’s proposal to raise state sales tax

January 15, 2010


Douglas County legislators on Thursday said more state budget cuts will devastate essential services, and that taxes need to be raised.

“We are here at a very critical time in our state’s history,” said House Democratic Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence. “We are really engaged in a great debate. Should we dismantle government, should government not take care of the disabled, the elderly, and should we have only minimal funding of schools and universities, or are the programs that people who came before us and built, worth keeping?”

But the legislators, appearing at a forum at the Dole Institute of Politics, disagreed on which taxes should be raised, and they all backed away from Gov. Mark Parkinson’s plan to increase the state sales tax by one cent for three years, saying the sales tax increase would hurt the poorest Kansans the most.

They praised Parkinson, a Democrat, for providing a budget plan when the 2010 legislative session started Monday, but they said other proposals should be considered, such as closing some sales tax exemptions, or delaying the phaseout of tax cuts already approved.

“Everything is on the table,” said state Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence.

State Rep. Tom Sloan of Lawrence, and the only Republican who attended the forum, said “a lot of my Republican brethren do want to shrink government.”

But the legislators argued enough was cut in 2009, approximately $1 billion from a $6.4 billion budget.

Even with those cuts the state faces a $400 million revenue shortfall, but further cuts to bridge that gap would be a mistake, the lawmakers said.

“Now is not the time to dumb down the schools, throw Granny in the street, and open the prisons,” said state Rep. Ann Mah, D-Topeka, whose district includes a small portion of Douglas County.

About 30 people attended the forum put on by the Lawrence branch of the American Association of University Women. State Sens. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, and state Rep. Tony Brown, D-Baldwin City, also spoke at the event.

At this point, there is no majority support in the Legislature for a tax increase or significant budget cuts.

Earlier Thursday, Parkinson stood by his tax increase plan despite the bipartisan opposition. He has also proposed raising the cigarette tax by 55 cents per pack.

“The Legislature is just settling in, understanding the budget,” Parkinson said.

But Parkinson said once the “brutality” of further budget cuts is understood, then lawmakers will start considering tax increases.

He said the conventional wisdom is that you can’t pass a tax increase in an election year, but he added, “that is not accurate.” He said he believes the general public understands the magnitude of the state’s budget problems.

But legislative unease about a tax increase was evident in the Senate tax committee where Parkinson’s proposals couldn’t even get introduced before the panel. It was the first time in recent memory that an administration bill failed to get introduced.

Meanwhile, a plan announced by Republican leadership to put the Legislature on 10 days of unpaid furlough to cut costs has been put on hold.

The initial plan, which was to start today, would have held back legislative pay and subsistence for today, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, which is a national holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. And the GOP proposal would have held back pay for six more days during the 2010 session.

But apparently, the plan, announced earlier this week, may have to be run as legislation or a resolution or both, and require full votes of the Legislature. GOP leaders say they will work again on the issue next week.


kansasmutt 8 years, 5 months ago

Instead of taxing kansans more, why not kansas government going to a 4 day work week ? Another idea is to cut some of the pork from the states payroll. Limit school districts on yearly waste. Make them live whithin their means as well. I dont know if anyones noticed , but every town big or small has all new schools built , and they are a bit like 5 star Hotels . What happened to good sturdy schools that last 100 years ? Now we have schools that are huge , 1 story , spread out , hard to heat and cool and cost buzzillions to build and operate. Every town is taxing the citizens to the gills and the state and cities cant squeeze any more money from the people. It might just be time to live in the real world.

patrickj 8 years, 5 months ago

Instead of raising taxes on the people that are already having trouble finding jobs and surviving, lets look at some of the government programs that are being abused and perhaps we can find the money we need. Tighter restrictions on food stamps and disability for example.

patrickj 8 years, 5 months ago

Oh, and seriously Parkinson? Why is the "go to" answer tax the smokers?

deputyfife 8 years, 5 months ago

Do you recommend doing the same thing for all the people in the state that receive farm subsidies Healthcare_Moocher? There is much more waste in farming subsidies than in the welfare system!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

Raising the income tax on higher incomes is the only thing that makes any sense. Raising the sales tax is disproportionately a raise in taxes on lower and middle incomes, who can least afford it. Some of the tax breaks given to businesses over the last several years should also be reviewed.

And any sales taxes on tobacco products beyond the basic sales taxes charged on all other items should go exclusively to medical programs that address the medical needs of smokers and/or smoking cessation and prevention programs.

texburgh 8 years, 5 months ago

Watch out! Your ignorance is showing! Perhaps if you had to "pee in a cup" so we could determine the extent of your addiction to Rush Limbaugh (another famous addict). But actually to determine if you're addicted to Rush or Fox we would need a stool sample - to find out how much BS is in your system.

"cut some of the pork from the states payroll" Please identify the "pork" in the state payroll. Until you can point to something specific, don't make generalized stated-as-fact statements gleaned from Glenn Beck.

"Limit school districts on yearly waste" Again, please identify the "waste." Maybe you mean AP classes taken by only a few students? Maybe you mean music or art? I'll bet you mean the little stadiums at FSHS and LHS. Money that was raised for capital expenditures and by voter edict could only be spent on capital expenditures. And before your next ignorant knee-jerk response, I too opposed the building of the stadiums but am bright enough to admit the money was used legally.

"Tighter restrictions on food stamps and disability" Because everyone knows the poor and disabled are a bunch of cheats. They sit around all day and think up new ways to game the system. Other than the fact that you once saw an obese person using food stamps or a person with a handicap placard that could walk, what evidence do you have of fraud on a scale that would balance the state budget?

"Make welfare people pick up their checks in person, fill out a status form as to how many people are living in their house and their status, pee in a cup" Because Rush says everyone on welfare is a con artist and a drug addict (just like Rush). I suggest you try living on a minimum wage job.

And Deputyfife - I suggest that healthcare_moocher pee in a cup before his street gets plowed in the next snowstorm or before he receives his social security check. Maybe he should have to pick up his social security check in person.

Stuart Evans 8 years, 5 months ago

by taxing and regulating both industrial hemp and cannabis, the state would open up huge new industries within the state. tax revenue will soar, and state economy will flourish. In the early years, there will be big money in tourism, as people won't have to go to California to partake in the countries newest freedom. Kansas needs to be a leader in this movement. the end of prohibition is on it's way. will we be in the top 10 or the bottom 10 when states decide to get on board? If it's not sooner, we'll lose billions in the long term.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 5 months ago

The reason the big money legislators do not want a sales tax is because there no loopholes. Everybody pays including THEM.

There are too many ways for too many to escape the increase in property or income tax so tell me which is more regressive? The middle class are the ones who always pay and are the stalwarts of any state or community.

There are many many documents out there stating how the very rich simply do not pay taxes. Individuals and corporations alike yet they don't mind using OUR tax dollars in their money making ventures.

Here is a possible tool to save the day. USD 497 needs to be thinking long term until the Kansas legislature does a 180.

Would you favor a sales tax increase to provide more money for Lawrence teacher salaries? 80% of 5,198 participants said yes! This number 5,198 is an extremely high response for any JW poll.

Why not organize around saving teacher salaries and the quality of USD 497?

Boston_Corbett 8 years, 5 months ago

Truther sounds like Kevin G. the most banned poster in LJW history.

How long do you think he stays around this time?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

"Bozo, You must not have a higher income."

No, I don't. But neither have I ever received any direct government aid of any sort (except for a couple of Pell grants 30 some years ago,) and I don't anticipate that I will.

Anyone who does have a high income only has it because they live in an economic system that disproportionately compensates the wealthy for the work they do (assuming they do any.) Their wealth would not be possible if it weren't for the work done by people in lower income brackets-- if you don't believe it, what do you think would happen to the economy if everyone in the lower 1/3 income bracket all took the next month off?

Capitalism, by definition, is not supposed to be "fair." A truly progressive income tax merely has a very slight leveling effect. The state income tax on the top 10% of income earners could be tripled and the wealthy would remain wealthy, the middle class would remain middle class, and the poor would remain poor.

seriouscat 8 years, 5 months ago

Meanwhile, lawmakers are criminalizing synthetic pot based upon nothing but anecdotal evidence of possible harm to society, so they can lock more people into the expensive facilities that are already overcrowded with non-violent offenders.

Kansas is goofy.

Raise income tax even more? If you want to bring more money under taxation, the last thing you want to do is encourage the people who have it run away with it or hide it.

avoice 8 years, 5 months ago

"Should we dismantle government, should government not take care of the disabled, the elderly, and should we have only minimal funding of schools and universities, or are the programs that people who came before us and built, worth keeping?”

This type of all-or-nothing rhetoric keeps us from actually engaging in essential debate. Sounds more like a line in the sand, to me. If Dems and Repubs would get out of their corners and meet in the middle, where the rest of us live, we might get some effective compromise. I don't know about Kansas, but I sure know that compromise is the way our nation got started and built itself up. In fact, that is also the way individuals and businesses build wealth: moving forward when you can and cutting back when you need to.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

"You would see remarkable innovation and machines would be doing their jobs."

You really are disconnected with reality, aren't you?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

That's got to one of the most extreme expositions of ignorance ever posted on this forum, Truther.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

"Machinery has made human labor obsolete."

You're a real parade of ignorant statements today.

texburgh 8 years, 5 months ago

Healthcare_moocher: What a treat you are. You assume so much. If someone disagrees with your extremist sentiments, you automatically assume they are trailer-dwelling, minimum wage welfare recipients with multiple piercings. Not only is this reflective of so much hate and bitterness - I actually pity anyone who has to come in face-to-face contact with your anger and hatred every day - it is indicative of your narrow extremist world view.

For the record: I am over 50 and hold multiple degrees from Universities; I have been fully employed in professional positions for over 30 years (some in the public sector, others in the private sector), I own a home in a west Lawrence neighborhood, I am not "intoxicated" although I do enjoy a nice cabernet now and again, I have no piercings or tattoos (nor do I sport a pony tail), I have raised my own children to adulthood with no taxpayer support. My children today are college students and members of the U.S. Military. While I have "pee'd in a cup" for employment purposes, I do not and will not allow the government to stick its nose in my personal life by requiring me to "pee in a cup" to take advantage of a government service to which I might be entitled.

I do believe that my success carries with it some responsibility to those of my fellow citizens who are still working their way up or are struggling to get by. I am happy to pay taxes to provide for quality public schools, mental health services, care for those with disabilities, and seniors with health and income challenges.

I am willing to pay taxes to maintain a police force and a fire department, to keep my roads maintained, and to provide parks and recreation services for all of us to enjoy. I even believe in paying taxes to support a public library that enables all of us to explore other ideas and hopefully shed the ignorance that is reflected in hate-inspired postings like yours.

So instead of being a bigoted knee-jerk reactionary in your commentary, perhaps you could join civil society.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

Truther-- you're devolving from pure ignorance to pure nonsense.

Jimo 8 years, 5 months ago

"The business sector will get along just fine with out any government intervention."


Strange how it is that almost all of these sales-tax exemptions (exc. for non-profits and schools) are for the business sector, which I define to include farmers and ranchers. Stranger still how many of them not only receive direct governmental subsidies but also how many directly, or through collective lobbying, spend large sums of dollars to bribe state and federal legislators, governors, and presidents, to 'pork up' the subsidies that already exist.

Adam Smith, the proto-capitalist, wrote quite clearly in his "Wealth of Nations" how business always seeks to lobby government for (a) restrictions on their competitors and (b) government subsidies. No one, except for the true-believers, is the least bit surprised.

Jimo 8 years, 5 months ago

"there is no reward with out risk."

While it is generally true that greater risk demands higher returns, I doubt there is one living person who cannot cite an example of someone collecting "rewards" without "risk."

Indeed, I believe, for example, that right now the financial industry is collecting rewards running into the trillions of dollars because the taxpayers are taking on the risks of their industry but letting them keep the rewards. Borrow money cheap (from Uncle Sam), lend it out high (to the taxpayers), and watch the profits roll in. (Chumps.)

Jimo 8 years, 5 months ago

Thanks, Bozo, for reminding us that not all the wacko extremists come with a right-wing flavor.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 8 years, 5 months ago

Property taxes hurt people who are retired and on fixed incomes. They should be done away with. An increase in sales tax is fair to everyone. Thank you, Lynn

Ricky_Vaughn 8 years, 5 months ago

I've always favored sales tax hikes over types of tax hikes. A large percentage of Lawrence's population is students...they do not own property. Sales taxes hit everyone.

Jimo 8 years, 5 months ago

"Property taxes hurt people who are retired and on fixed incomes."

How so? People with a good amount of wealth (the average house in Lawrence is worth, what, $180k?) should pay tax.

"An increase in sales tax is fair to everyone."

How so? People with an average wage in Lawrence (maybe $35k) pay tax on both luxuries and necessities. People with below average wages pay just as much.

How is it "fair" for an elderly person on a fixed income with a $500k house but who spends $35k (probably much less) a year on sales-taxed products and services to pay less tax while a person with a $0k house who spends $35k on themselves and multiple children to pay more tax?

I'm sympathetic to those on fixed incomes who barely scrape by. That is NOT typical for retirees.

MyName 8 years, 5 months ago

"At this point, there is no majority support in the Legislature for a tax increase or significant budget cuts."

So I guess their either going to start plucking the money tree the governor has hiding behind the mansion, or else they're just hoping the budget problem goes away.

At least we're doing better than California.

georgiahawk 8 years, 5 months ago

Mooch-boy, seek help before your spirit goes completely dark!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

"Thanks, Bozo, for reminding us that not all the wacko extremists come with a right-wing flavor."

Care to make a specific point, or is this just your day to be petty and immature?

Stu Clark 8 years, 5 months ago

BW, Corporate taxation is simply a way to hide taxes in the price of products so that people don't notice they're being taxed. Income taxes should be imposed money flowing to people not to businesses.

The property tax problem for the retired was why California passed a law tying the tax to the price paid for the house and limiting subsequent increases until the house is sold again. Of course California has its difficulties, but the problem is not the concept. A taxaphobic populace and semi-incompetent legislators, due in part to term-limits, are more to blame.

George Lippencott 8 years, 5 months ago

Boy did we wander. So now we will tax the people in order to file their taxes??? Could one of our tax preperation services be behind this-they would benefit. Who is it that does not file electronically - the poorer among us. Go get them!!

Thinking_Out_Loud 8 years, 5 months ago

Healthcare_Moocher wrote "...I provide for my family, I go to work every day and take care of my neighbors."

I infer, then, that your family and your neighbors are moochinf off you and do not provide for or take care of themselves. I wonder if you make them submit specimens after they request, in-person, your provisions and care?

JustNoticed 8 years, 5 months ago

“Now is not the time to dumb down the schools, throw Granny in the street, and open the prisons,” said state Rep. Ann Mah, D-Topeka,

Correct, now is the time to restore justice. Now is the time to eat the rich.

Jason Bowers-Chaika 8 years, 5 months ago

I work with/for the disabled and they are not bilking the system. Try living on $ 700.00/month and $50/month food stamps. There may be some cheats out there sure. But for my tax dollar and seeing first hand the people that are receiving Medicaid, Medicare, and disability, they need every dollar. The recent cuts to Medicare providers are harming everyone but those most vulnerable are those getting Home and Community Based Services-the elderly, blind, traumatic brain injuries, physically disabled. The very services that keep them out of institutions are slashed. This is very short sighted in that it costs many millions more to put people into institutions than it does to support them to live in their own homes and communities.

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