Archive for Tuesday, March 2, 2010

House to debate bill that would impose state sales tax on residential utilities

March 2, 2010, 10:39 a.m. Updated March 2, 2010, 2:07 p.m.


— The debate over whether to increase taxes to help lift the state from its current budget crisis will be held next week in the House, officials said Tuesday.

The House Taxation Committee advanced “without recommendation” a $169 million tax increase that would impose the state sales tax on residential utility billls. Churches and religious groups would also start paying the 5.3 percent state sales tax on goods they buy and the tax would be added to Kansas Lottery tickets.

House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, said the House will debate the measure, probably next week.

“This is an important debate to have,” O’Neal said.

O’Neal said he is opposed to a tax increase, but noted that Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, “has really put a lot of investment on taxes being part of the solution.”

Since the national recession started in 2008, Kansas has cut about $1 billion from a $6.4 billion state budget. Lawmakers face an additional budget shortfall that is nearing $500 million shortfall in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

House Bill 2549 would have removed numerous sales tax exemptions. Between 1985 and last year, the number of sales tax exemptions handed out by the Legislature has increased from 30 to 96, removing $4.2 billion last year in forgone taxes, according to the Kansas Department of Revenue.

Advocates for social services and education have urged passage of the bill, saying that while many of the exemptions are given to organizations performing exemplary work, the exemptions are increasing the tax burden on everyone else, and decreasing the amount of money available to provide basic services.

On Tuesday, Republicans on the Tax Committee restored into the bill exemptions for non-profit organizations and home repairs, which reduced the proposed tax increase by about $13 million.

State Rep. Arlen Siegfreid, R-Olathe, then made a motion to kill the entire bill, but state Rep. Jeff King, R-Independence made a substitute motion to advance the bill without a recommendation. That was approved by a voice vote.

That puts the issue of a tax increase before the full House for the first time this session.

Most of the revenue, about $130 million, would come from imposing the state sales tax on residential water, electric and natural gas bills

During debate on the bill in committee, state Rep. Steve Lukert, D-Sabetha, said a constituent told him that he opposed a tax increase and opposed cuts in services. “We obviously know that is not a solution,” Lukert said.


Chris Ogle 8 years, 1 month ago

Wouldn't it be nice if we (taxpayers) could "find" new money from someone else when we needed it. But no, we have to live within our means.

sherlock 8 years, 1 month ago

wow, I thought we were already paying taxes on utility bills! Sure see a long list on every statement that comes in the mail. Westar,At&T,Sunflower,BlackHills, Water etc! So where does the money go for what is already on the statements? Apparently not the state huh? Seems like have almost $10 worth on every statement every month! And since the tax rate went up in Law. Ks. can sure tell a difference for every little thing one buys here in town too!

Bob_Keeshan 8 years, 1 month ago

Why not simply remove all sales tax exemptions? If you did so, you could lower the state tax rate dramatically, as low as 2%.

Personally, I wouldn't mind paying a 2% sales tax on my haircut in exchange for only paying a 2% sales tax the next time I buy a car.

Steve Miller 8 years, 1 month ago

Aparently joe the senator man thinks that all of us taxpayers are making so much money , we don't know how or where to spend it so the impose a !ulls$it tax on us when they get a wild hair and have no other answers. When are all of you going to wake up... I will not vote any of the incumbent next election. The only hold we have over these "types" is our votes. Votem out...

situveux1 8 years, 1 month ago

I agree, if they would just remove all sales tax exemptions then they could lower the rate for everyone. Practically though, when it came time to lower that rate there are a bunch of people that would fight to keep it as high as possible. If the lower rate wasn't "revenue neutral" then it's essentially a tax increase, and that I don't find acceptable.

Also, there's just something wrong with paying sales tax on my utility bills when I'm pretty sure they are already taxed quite a bit. Further, this kind of sales tax would hurt the poor the absolute most. It's like the state taxing food. That's as equally appalling.

somedude20 8 years, 1 month ago

Well kids, look at the bright said as we already have the taxes bit down and are just waiting for the death bit to come into play.

Robert Rauktis 8 years, 1 month ago

Americans getting the actual cost of energy and water?!?! That's why we keep a standing army, isn't it?

Paul R Getto 8 years, 1 month ago

For a study of all the tax 'deals' given out in the past years, check these out.

Hugo Wall School of Urban and Public Affairs Wichita State University

Studies paid for by your esteemed legislators.

admireed 8 years, 1 month ago

Yes Yes Yes. Sales tax on religious org. These entities also should pay property taxes on real estate

BigDog 8 years, 1 month ago

Yes ..... let's get those evil nonprofit organizations who help our children, elderly, mentally ill, poor and disabled.

I am sure that they will still find a way to exempt oil and gas companies from paying on their purchases ...... and still give those tax breaks to organizations because they might create jobs .... which most of those tax breaks have not created the jobs promised

Blessed4x 8 years, 1 month ago

The girl scouts and homeless shelters be damned! Tax 'em all! Tax 'em until they can't pay anymore and then tax their taxes! Stupid cub scouts and Meals-on-Wheels people! Tax the crud out of 'em! That'll show 'em. And then we'll offer in-state tuition prices to illegal immigrants with their tax money. Crisis solved.

Tonie Barnett Bruns 8 years, 1 month ago

The money has to come from somewhere, and unfortunately until our state and governmental deficeits can be taken care of, we can not move completely out of this "recession".

funinsun1 8 years, 1 month ago

I would be willing to pay my share if they got rid of the tax exemptions - wait with 4.2Billion there would be a surplus so they would not have to tax this any more.

Wait one more - if the 130Millon would balance the budget I would be ok with paying - wait - still does not balance so they will have to tax something else. Baby steps to taking all of your money.

Come on people this is crazy - there should not be one seat that is not a new rep after the next election. These people have no clue.

handley 8 years, 1 month ago

I would rather see a state sales tax across the board. My electric bill just went up $35 and adding a 5% tax to that makes another 7 to $8 more when you are on a small fixed income. That makes a big difference.Putting the tax home owners or renters is not a fair tax.

tomatogrower 8 years, 1 month ago

xbusguy (anonymous) says... Wouldn't it be nice if we (taxpayers) could "find" new money from someone else when we needed it. But no, we have to live within our means

The tax cuts they are giving to businesses are suppose to create gobs and gobs of jobs (sarcasm), so you can go out and get another job, or a better one. And we won't need any social services anymore, because companies are just going to roll into to Kansas to get all their tax cuts, and everyone will have a job that pays a living wage and everything will be wonderful. Of course, they've been cutting taxes on corporations for several years now, and were still waiting for all those jobs. They're just sure it going to happen soon. Just one more cut ought to do it.

ivalueamerica 8 years, 1 month ago

Consumer prices would rise and the poor pay a disproportionate share of their income on utilities and food.

Tax the poor, then raise prices for the poor.

Great plan, what next, steal candy from children and resell it.

pittstatebb 8 years, 1 month ago


Last spending cut was passed about two weeks ago. It was the 5th or 6th of the last two years. I seemed to have lost track of how many cuts there have been.

jayhawks71 8 years, 1 month ago

"and the tax would be added to Kansas Lottery tickets"

Did I read this correctly? They are going to add sales tax to the "tax" on the poor, who play the lottery? Madness!

Bob_Keeshan 8 years, 1 month ago

Healthcare_Moocher (anonymous) says...

Again, there is no mention of cutting spending.

I recall earlier stories in the LJ World indicating most agencies, including K-12 education, the Regents, Corrections, etc. have cut their spending back to at the most 2006 levels and many are lower than that.

Most agencies is an important caveat, because there are exceptions. For example, the Legislature is spending considerably more than in 2006.

Regardless, if I told you state spending had remained flat or even been reduced for the past five years, I bet you would be happy with that.

So explain - why aren't you happy? Ignorance? Funny, I was always told ignorance was bliss.

Jimo 8 years, 1 month ago

I haven't heard so many excuses for not affording taxes since that time I pulled up outside the unemployment office and offered day labor picking corn to the unemployed.

I suppose Kansas could set up a rainy-day fund, putting money aside during good times to balance out the increased governmental claims and reduced revenue during bad times. Of course, you'd have to think up some sort of "lockbox" to keep the politicians running for re-election from looting it and forwarding the proceeds to the wealthy.

kugrad 8 years, 1 month ago

Kansas should tax churches. Tax their property, tax their purchases, tax whatever they have that can be taxed. No one can honestly argue that churches are now disconnected from politics. As such, they should be taxed. I've been to KS churches that hand out fliers on who to vote for in upcoming elections. Tax them. Give unto Cesar what is Cesars and tax them just like anyone else. Long overdue.

crissyb13 8 years, 1 month ago

Fire off some emails, folks!

Kansas Senate District 2, Senator Marci Francisco, Kansas House District 46, Representative Paul Davis,

Keep abreast of happenings in the Kansas Legislature at:

PosseComitatus 8 years, 1 month ago

I think the first thing someone looks to cut would be duplicated services. A home budget you might shut of your land line phone and keep your cell phone.

Looking at the big picture the greatest duplication of service I see is the KHP and KBI. Don't we pay taxes to the city and county for theses services already?

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