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Archive for Sunday, March 28, 2010

No-win situation

Results of a recent statewide poll illustrate the difficulty of finding acceptable ways to balance the Kansas budget.

March 28, 2010

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A statewide survey widely publicized last week because it showed strong support for increased tobacco and alcohol taxes in Kansas also included other responses that point to the challenge faced by legislators trying to balance the state budget.

The survey was conducted March 17 and 18 for the American Cancer Society, and the support it showed for increased tobacco and alcohol taxes certainly was notable. Seventy-one percent of those surveyed supported a 55-cent-per-pack tobacco tax increase, and support was only slightly lower, 69 percent, for adding $1 per pack in taxes. Seventy percent supported an increase in the state alcohol tax.

Support for those taxes makes a lot of sense, because for the majority of Kansans they represent a tax on someone else. According to the latest figures gathered by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, only about 18 percent of Kansas adults are smokers. KDHE’s annual report doesn’t tally all Kansas adults who consume alcohol, but it says about 14 percent of Kansas adults reported they had engaged in binge drinking of alcohol in the previous month. For the 82 percent of Kansans who don’t smoke and the 86 percent of Kansans who drink moderately or not at all, increased taxes on cigarettes and alcohol seem like a good deal.

The other issue is that although higher taxes on alcohol and cigarettes may have health benefits, the impact on the overall state budget shortfall would be relatively minor compared, for instance, with a statewide sales tax increase. A 55-cent tax increase on each pack of cigarettes would raise an estimated $69 million for the state; while the alcohol tax proposals currently on the table would raise about $22 million. It’s a start, but it’s a long way from closing the state’s $467 million deficit hole.

However, the poll shows little support for broader taxes — the ones more people would have to pay.

Of those responding to the survey, 54 percent opposed a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages; 56 opposed a sales tax increase; 68 percent opposed making churches and non-profits pay sales tax; 70 percent opposed an increase in state income tax; and 86 percent opposed charging sales tax on residential utilities.

So much for the revenue side of things.

However, Kansans don’t want to lose any of the services that revenue pays for. Eighty-seven percent wanted no reduction in funding for K-12 schools; 72 percent wanted no reduction in highway maintenance; 76 percent wanted no reduction in funding for state universities; 81 percent opposed cuts in state health care programs like Medicare; 85 percent opposed cuts for social service programs and 55 percent opposed mandatory furloughs for state employees.

It doesn’t give state legislators a lot of breathing room. About any services they cut or any revenue they raise are going to make a lot of people unhappy — which is not what they want as they head toward a November election in which many legislators will be asking voters to return them to office.

There’s no reason to feel sorry for state legislators. This is the job they were elected to do, in bad times as well as good. However, it doesn’t hurt for state residents to understand that even when state leaders make the best decisions they can, they won’t make everyone — or even most of us — entirely happy.

Comments

notajayhawk 4 years, 4 months ago

"Support for those taxes makes a lot of sense, because for the majority of Kansans they represent a tax on someone else."

"However, the poll shows little support for broader taxes — the ones more people would have to pay."

No kiddin'. You only have to read these message boards to know that.

"This is the job they were elected to do, in bad times as well as good. However, it doesn’t hurt for state residents to understand that even when state leaders make the best decisions they can, they won’t make everyone — or even most of us — entirely happy."

Or maybe instead of trying to figure out how to raise more money, they can try to figure out a way to spend less.

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feeble 4 years, 4 months ago

except that more Kansans want to see spending sustained at current levels than Kansans who want less taxation, according to the article above.

You can't have it both ways.

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notajayhawk 4 years, 4 months ago

feeble (anonymous) says…

"except that more Kansans want to see spending sustained at current levels than Kansans who want less taxation, according to the article above."

And again, one only needs to read the messages posted to these message boards to know that. A sense of entitlement is not unusual around here.

"You can't have it both ways. "

No kiddin'. Ya' think? You share the editorial writer's penchant for stating the obvious.

Everyone - including all those who don't want state services cut - at some time in their life is faced with one of those 'can't have it both ways' choices. We can't maintain our level of spending without bringing in more money, so if the money isn't there we have to cut back. We don't just get to take it from our neighbors.

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Centerville 4 years, 4 months ago

We should be grateful that we don't have that car of clowns in office that tried to raise taxes several years ago. The (mostly now former) representatives that offered to champion Sebilius' new taxes so none of her fingerprints were on them. We managed to get along then without going after the economy, and we can get along now.

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George Lippencott 4 years, 4 months ago

Wow! A majority of Kansans might just not want to pay more taxes. They must all be “tea party mobsters”. Quick, send them to the reeducation camps!!! This factoid must be startling to the denizens of Lawrence on the Kaw. Here, we have never met a tax we didn’t embrace. Wonder if it is the majority in Lawrence that wants to pay more. Maybe the majority wants someone else to pay more. Maybe we should find out. Maybe we should consider more referendums on taxes. Sending the notion of a bunch of money for the library to the voters seems quite fitting. Perhaps we should send the Corliss memorial recreation center to the people. With the very real likelihood of an increase in sales taxes at the state level, perhaps we should consider lowering our local sales taxes for a few years. I dream. This is Lawrence – it will never happen!

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oldvet 4 years, 4 months ago

Remove the sales tax on food, up the general sales tax to make up the shortfall. Up the taxes on tobacco and alcohol. Put in special sales taxes for big ticket new (not used or resales) items, cars, boats, appliances, homes. Put in an across the board cut in the budget of 5%, every department, let the department figure it out, no exceptions. Refuse to pass ANY new spending other than emergency natural events such as storms, floods or tornadoes.

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George Lippencott 4 years, 4 months ago

oldvet (anonymous) says…

Sounds like you are right in there with the rest - raise taxes and cut services on/to others but cut taxes that hit me the hardest. By the by, they have already cut most elements of our state giovernment by more than 5%. You know the3VAT tax suggested at tthe federal level just might do what you want - and more!!

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texburgh 4 years, 4 months ago

How many would respond differently if the income tax question was not "an increase in the income tax" but rather "an additional income tax bracket for those earning over $200,000?"

The fact that our highest bracket is set at $60,000 makes our income tax more regressive. Putting one or two more brackets are those earning much higher incomes would likely get a more positive response.

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notajayhawk 4 years, 4 months ago

oldvet (anonymous) says…

"Remove the sales tax on food, up the general sales tax to make up the shortfall. Up the taxes on tobacco and alcohol. Put in special sales taxes for big ticket new (not used or resales) items, cars, boats, appliances, homes. Put in an across the board cut in the budget of 5%, every department, let the department figure it out, no exceptions. Refuse to pass ANY new spending other than emergency natural events such as storms, floods or tornadoes."

How 'bout one or the other - make the cuts, maybe we wouldn't need to raise the taxes.


texburgh (anonymous) says…

"How many would respond differently if the income tax question was not "an increase in the income tax" but rather "an additional income tax bracket for those earning over $200,000?""

I assume that was a rhetorical question. The story already pointed out that almost everyone's in favor of taxing someone else.

"The fact that our highest bracket is set at $60,000 makes our income tax more regressive."

"Regressive"? Are you serious? Only in the entitlement capitol of the world, Larryville, can someone say that something that's already a progressive tax is "regressive" because we're not scrwing the rich enough*.

"Putting one or two more brackets are those earning much higher incomes would likely get a more positive response."

No kiddin'. Pretty much everyone around here, at least, would jump at the chance to go steal their wealthier neighbor's property if the government allowed them to.

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George Lippencott 4 years, 4 months ago

notajayhawk (anonymous) says…

"No kiddin'. Pretty much everyone around here, at least, would jump at the chance to go steal their wealthier neighbor's property if the government allowed them to."

It already does - it is called taxes - ones that are paid by some and not by all.

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Stuart Evans 4 years, 4 months ago

it's a shame that the legislators won't even consider legalizing cannabis for adults. The benefit would be two fold. First, tax revenue. Direct purchase, employment, and secondary taxes would all increase, as millions of dollars would now remain in our communities instead of being shipped south of the border. Second, law enforcement savings. We spend millions and millions of dollars to "try" and keep people from using marijuana. However, we aren't actually keeping it from anyone. that money is wasted. Additionally, the recreation use of cannabis is not the only use of this plant. the industrial uses of this cash crop would be a huge boon to our state coffers

With fewer people in jail, less black market crime, increased tax revenue & happier citizens with some of their rights back in place; How is this not a great answer to one of our biggest problems?

The downside would be Notajayhawk wouldn't be watching people pee-test any longer....

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commuter 4 years, 4 months ago

It would be nice to know what people do for a living. I see a trend that people who work for governmental or financed by government are more willing to raise taxes. Why?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 4 months ago

As I've pointed out many times, it's the height of absurdity to expect that taxes should be "fair," in an economy that is by design and philosophy unfair.

I'm with oldvet and Texburgh-- remove the sales tax on food, and replace that funding with a new bracket on income taxes for incomes over $200,000.

Property taxes on private residences should be bracketed, as well. There should be a higher bracket for houses with valuations over $250,000.

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George Lippencott 4 years, 4 months ago

commuter (anonymous) says…

Because many of them get raises annually so the increased tax burden is lessened by that raise. Many others do not get raises and a tax increase is a loss in standard of living.

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George Lippencott 4 years, 4 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (anonymous) says… paulette2 (anonymous) says…

Yep, tax someone else. True Lawrence tradition!

Where does this notion of sprawl come from?? You could lose Lawrence in a small portion of the suburbs of a costal major city. They have sprawl! We have a middle size town that takes 15 minutes to cross. You have apparently been reading merrill again?

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notajayhawk 4 years, 4 months ago

commuter (anonymous) says…

"It would be nice to know what people do for a living. I see a trend that people who work for governmental or financed by government are more willing to raise taxes. Why?"

Because it supports that other basic tenet of entitlement: It guarantees their job.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (anonymous) says…

"As I've pointed out many times, it's the height of absurdity to expect that taxes should be "fair," in an economy that is by design and philosophy unfair."

Mostly because boohoohoozo is incapable of understanding that there could possibly be any interpretation of "fair" other than "equal". Each giving according to his ability, and receiving according to their needs, nicht wahr, Herr Klowne?

"I'm with oldvet and Texburgh-- remove the sales tax on food, and replace that funding with a new bracket on income taxes for incomes over $200,000."

You could have saved yourself the time it took to post that, boohoohoozo. Pretty sure everyone was already aware of your preferences.

BTW, oldvet, at least, also advocated reducing spending. That okay with you, too, or is it only the wealth-redistribution part that you're hot for?

"Property taxes on private residences should be bracketed, as well. There should be a higher bracket for houses with valuations over $250,000."

Question answered.


AreUNorml (anonymous) says…

"The downside would be Notajayhawk wouldn't be watching people pee-test any longer...."

Sorry, AbNorml, while that may be how you choose to spend your free time, I've got better things to do with mine.

BTW, a majority of your fellow citizens are still opposed to legalization, norm.

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geekyhost 4 years, 4 months ago

lPutting some higher brackets in seems like the better pan. Our tax system is ridiculously flat, and there's plenty of room for raising the rate for the over $200,000 earners without creating an incentive to move out of state.

Nobody ever wants to pay higher taxes. I don't want to pay my utility bill, either. I'd much rather pay it than have my lights shut off, though.

There comes a point when "just spend less" ends up meaning you dump on the disabled and children and end up with nobody around to fight your fires or fix the holes in the road. You also lose matching federal funds for some programs, so cutting back on spending means you're cutting back $2 for every $1 you save.

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Stuart Evans 4 years, 4 months ago

Notajayhawk says "Sorry, AbNorml, while that may be how you choose to spend your free time, I've got better things to do with mine."


I'd love to meet you someday so I can affirm my belief that you're a tool. what's with you resorting t to name calling?

"BTW, a majority of your fellow citizens are still opposed to legalization, norm."

got numbers to back that up? The majority of my fellow citizens also believe in an invisible man in the sky, so I'm going to chalk that up as a misinformed and misguided majority.

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notajayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

AreUNorml (anonymous) says…

"got numbers to back that up?"

Yes, actually.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/123728/u.s.-support-legalizing-marijuana-reaches-new-high.aspx

Of course, you might have looked that up yourself, if only ...

"The majority of my fellow citizens also believe in an invisible man in the sky, so I'm going to chalk that up as a misinformed and misguided majority."

What a coincidence. There are plenty of people making the same argument about our last presidential election.

"I'd love to meet you someday so I can affirm my belief that you're a tool. what's with you resorting t to name calling?"

Uh, right. 'Cause when you said 'The downside would be Notajayhawk wouldn't be watching people pee-test any longer....', I'm sure you meant it in the most courteous and respectful way. In any event, norml, the addition of the "ab-" was to point out that, as a member of the minority, your views are not the norm. And were I to imply that it was you that was the 'tool', I'd have to include the observation that you may not be the sharpest one in the box.

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Kirk Larson 4 years, 3 months ago

Legalize pot and tax that too. Good for the farmers. Good for the State!

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gravitykills 4 years, 3 months ago

As long as we are taxing addictions, let's put a 60 cent tax on every can of coffee.

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