Topeka — Early this week, the Senate will consider a $434 million state tax increase, but even those who supported the measure in committee doubt it will survive intact.
“I don’t for a minute think that it’s the final product. You have to have something to start debating on the floor,” said Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jay Emler, R-Lindsborg.
Emler saw an earlier tax proposal fizzle in committee, but on Day Three of the wrap-up session, which began last week, the committee recommended the tax package to the full Senate.
Since the Jan. 11 start of the 2010 legislative session, legislators have been under the gun to balance the state budget amid record revenue shortfalls.
When the wrap-up started, Gov. Mark Parkinson, who has cut nearly $1 billion from the budget over the past year, told the Legislature no more cuts.
What the committee produced is pretty much what Parkinson called for more than 3 1/2 months ago: a temporary 1-cent increase in the state sales tax and a 55-cent per pack increase in the cigarette tax.
But those opposed to the plan say there are other actions the state could take to save money, including selling state assets, such as office buildings, and then leasing them back, and catching more Medicaid fraud.
“I think there are other possibilities to narrow that gap,” said Sen. Mark Taddiken, R-Clifton.
But Emler said the revenue is needed to support a budget that avoids additional cuts in education and social services.
In the House, Republican leaders want to cut more from the budget and have rejected the idea of increasing state taxes.
Meanwhile, on the tax side, some Democrats say they would like to see changes made in the state income tax to make the tax system more fair. Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka has a proposal to reduce state income taxes for most Kansans while increasing rates for the wealthiest.