Archive for Friday, March 26, 2010

Senate Democrats to unveil proposed tax increase

March 26, 2010, 11:44 a.m. Updated March 26, 2010, 4:09 p.m.


House Democratic Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence, left, and Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka, speak during a news conference on Friday at the Statehouse. Hensley said Senate Democrats next week would propose a tax increase to help solve the current budget crisis.

House Democratic Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence, left, and Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka, speak during a news conference on Friday at the Statehouse. Hensley said Senate Democrats next week would propose a tax increase to help solve the current budget crisis.

— Kansas Senate Democrats said Friday they will roll out a tax proposal next week that will include raising the income tax to help balance the state budget.

Minority Leader Anthony Hensley said that the plan will also include raising the state sales tax. Gov. Mark Parkinson offered that idea during his state of the state address in January. Democrats are looking at increasing the tax rates for the highest-earning residents.

"We haven't signed off on anything," said Hensley, of Topeka. "It's not across the board. We haven't reached a threshold, but it won't be a general income tax increase for most Kansans."

He would not say how much money the proposals would raise, but any package would have to have significant increases to close the projected gap between what the state must spend and what revenue it has available for the fiscal year starting July 1.

"I'm not willing to put an exact figure to it," Hensley said.

Lawmakers have reviewed and debated various sales tax proposals this session, including repealing some exemptions. But no measure has earned enough votes.

Legislators will know with more clarity how Kansas revenue collections are doing after a panel of economists meet to make their next estimate on April 16. That figure will be the basis for further budget deliberations.

"I think there's fear out there that after consensus revenue estimates come back that the gap could grow beyond $500 million. We have to see what number is going to be," said House Minority Leader Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat.

Senate Republican leaders have gone on record saying they would support raising taxes to close a projected $364 million hole in the state budget for 2011.

Hensley says if Democrats are willing to vote for a sales tax that Republicans have to at least consider raising income taxes. Democrats want to use the additional revenues to restore proposed cuts in the Senate's draft budget for social services, health care and programs for the elderly.

Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jay Emler, a Lindsborg Republican, questioned whether the additional income taxes would be collected quickly enough.

"I don't think it provides the immediate solution we need," he said. "We need to be taking in revenue as quickly as possible."

Emler agrees that the budget gap could be $500 million.

Hensley added, "I think we're going to be faced with a much more serious deficit than that."

Repubicans hold significant majorities in the Legislature -- 31-9 in the Senate and 76-49 in the House. But Democrats have aligned with a group of Republicans who oppose further cuts to the budget.

Hensley would not reveal details of the tax package that he plans to bring forward next week. But he said the income tax proposal would add a new upper income bracket. The top bracket now for married Kansans filing jointly applies to income over $60,000.


Tracy Rogers 8 years, 1 month ago

It could be a very simple solution.

  1. Increase tobaccos tax to the national average.

  2. Increase sales tax by 1/2 percent for 3 years.

  3. Revoke sales tax exemptions given out over the past 10-15 years in reverse order until there's enough to balance the budget.

Danimal 8 years, 1 month ago

This could be the straw that breaks the camel's back for Kansas residents like me who were already considering leaving the state for greener pastures. I would rather pay higher fuel taxes than income taxes. These tax increases are really just an assault on Kansas' working poor, who will have to pay higher sales taxes on everything they buy. Why don't we levy some more taxes on all those eight thousand pound SUVs everyone from JoCo insists on driving? Those SUVs are destroying our roads and the environment. Farm and commercial vehicles would of course be exempt. I think that there's real merit to raising taxes on vices, fuel and luxuries before we start tapping directly into people's income and household budgets.

We all know our Kansas lawmakers can't be held to any standards of reason or sound government. Maybe this is just their reminding us they can't be trusted to make good decisions? I say, throw all the bums out in November.

David Albertson 8 years, 1 month ago

Legalize marijuana, tax the hell out of it. Problem solved.

The way it is now. A large portion of our population already uses the drug on a regular basis. The Cartels in Mexico are making untold Billions of dollars and don't pay a single penny in taxes. Our State and Local governments are going broke while the murderers south of the border are living the high life. At some point people are going to have to get off their soap boxes and face reality. It's a plant that grows naturally in the dirt. It is a plant that is native to Kansas. Marijuana does not lead a person to heavier drugs. Making contacts in the black market leads a person to heavier drugs. I think most people with marijuana experience will agree with me.

MyName 8 years, 1 month ago

Then you are about to be banned for the umpteenth time!

SnakeFist 8 years, 1 month ago

barstop: Great idea, but you're too late. Marijuana is already subject to taxation; if you get caught with marijuana and don't have a tax stamp then you get hit with tax evasion as well (I'm totally serious).

geekyhost 8 years, 1 month ago

Fooey on regressive taxes. Just freaking raise the income tax already. And FTR, I earn above KS median income and would likely pay more in taxes with an income tax increase than I would with a sales tax increase. I just don't believe in disproportionately taxing those with the least ability to pay for it.

geekyhost 8 years, 1 month ago

I googled. Apparently Montana and North Dakota aren't broke. And a few other states like Indiana had an emergency stash for hard times. But most states are suffering from less tax revenue and increased demand on services. Kansas is apparently the eighth worse state in terms of percentage of shortfall. We're not as bad if you just measure dollars, but still. Just raise the taxes already. Sheesh.

Stephen Roberts 8 years, 1 month ago

geekyhost- please feel free to voluntarily send more to the state. I pay enough taxes already.

Stephen Roberts 8 years, 1 month ago

Tax government employees (both state & local), USD497 employees, KU employees, and lawn care providers more because they are the ones who seem to be calling for tax increases.

nut_case 8 years, 1 month ago

And I will vote no new taxes.

Years ago, I was careful to choose a small used economic car fearing gas prices may jump. The government then took my money and gave it to people who had no foresight so they could buy a brand new car...yay, 'cash for clunkers'.

I scrimped and saved for a down payment on a house, made sure I found an affordable one with a payment well within my means. The government then raced to give my money away to people who bought large extravagant houses well beyond what they could afford then got 'pinched' when energy prices took off.

I show up every day for work, clean and sober, pass random drug and alcohol tests and take home a meager wage. The government takes my hard earned money and give it to people who don't have to pass any drug test and can just as easily set at home watching TV and getting high.

geekyhost 8 years, 1 month ago

commuter - I can afford an extra $43 per month to keep the state running. I'll give up a cup of coffee. That, btw, is an approximate flat rate. If we graduated that to make the richer pay more and the poorer pay less, I'll give up two cups of coffee for you, since paying less in taxes in recent years (as Kansas has done) is still "taxed enough."

And frankly I got back the biggest return I've had in years from the state. I was shocked. Not that I don't like getting money back, but with as much as a crunch as we have, I'd much rather have that money go to schools and SRS. As easy as it is to quip that I should just voluntarily give it up, you and I both know my refund alone won't keep a school open or a teacher hired. I did spend the money individually funding something that would have otherwise been covered by a state program, so I guess in a way I did do exactly as you suggested. I'm also damned lucky I had the means for it.

geekyhost 8 years, 1 month ago

Yes, nut_case, those kids, demanding "education." Those police and firemen demanding "salary." Bunch of freeloaders. Put 'em to work in the salt mines!

BTW - you're confusing federal and state programs.

geekyhost 8 years, 1 month ago

Barrypenders, like everything, the answer is far more complex than that. Wyoming is the only state that doesn't have income tax that isn't in trouble. Other states, like Nevada, wave income tax and are still in financial crisis. Montana has income tax, as does Indiana.

Wyoming also has relatively low sales taxes. Oops. Wyoming does, however, have the third highest property taxes in the nation. That's how the state gets revenue.

So by your magic formula, we should end income taxes, keep sales tax fairly flat, and jack property tax through the roof. Fine. I'm in.

Sunny Parker 8 years, 1 month ago

Steal from the rich to give to the ones who won't work.

geekyhost 8 years, 1 month ago

I hear the taxes are really low in Somalia. Some of you might want to check it out. It's a real Libertarian paradise.

geekyhost 8 years, 1 month ago

edjayhawk - I think our current highest state graduated bracket is $30,000. I find that to be ridiculously low.

Liberty275 8 years, 1 month ago

This is just a ploy to turn more democrats into republicans. Hopefully it will work. We are out of here at the next housing spike anyway. Living in a cornfield isn't worth paying state taxes.

Liberty275 8 years, 1 month ago

"I hear the taxes are really low in Somalia. Some of you might want to check it out. It's a real Libertarian paradise. "

Don't confuse libertarians with anarchists. They aren't related.

Liberty275 8 years, 1 month ago

Nah, Barry, I'm going home.

Florida Taxes - Florida ranks low in terms of the tax burden placed on residents. Based on income, property and other state and local tax collections, the Tax Foundation research organization ranks Florida among the lowest tax states (Florida ranks #45 among the 50 states in 2004; only five states have a lower tax burden).

State Sales Tax - 6%

Corporate Tax - 5.5%

State Income Tax - None

geekyhost 8 years, 1 month ago

A Venn graph of anarchists and Libertarians would overlap quite a bit, but we'll set aside that for now. Libertarians naively believe that a severely limited government wouldn't lead to violence or plutocracy. History says otherwise. Either an non-representational, de facto government steps in to enforce property interests, or the hoi palloi get pitchforks. Sometimes both.

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