Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Lawmakers to consider tax increase today

Governor Mark Parkinson has said he will veto any budget proposal that asks for more cuts. Parkinson said he is instead in favor of temporary tax increases to help close the budget gap.

May 5, 2010


— The Kansas Senate today is scheduled to consider a $350 million tax increase, and its outcome was uncertain.

The proposal, which has the blessing of Gov. Mark Parkinson, includes a temporary 1-cent increase in the state sales tax, from 5.3 cents per dollar to 6.3 cents per dollar, and removing the state portion of a tax break for large businesses. Under the plan, the 6.3 percent rate would fall to 5.7 percent in 2013.

Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, said he didn’t know whether the proposed budget and tax bills would win approval. “People have seen all the options,” he said, “and they dislike most of them.”

Legislators are nearing the end of the 2010 legislative session facing an estimated $500 million revenue shortfall after having already cut the budget by nearly $1 billion over the past 18 months.

Today is the last day to receive legislative pay, although legislators could resume payments through a vote — a move that some say would be a public relations disaster.

On Tuesday, House Republican leaders pushed a proposal that held the lid on taxes but would have cut schools by $86 million, cut state employee pay by 5 percent and reduced numerous social service programs. After hours of debate, a coalition of Democrats and some Republicans killed the measure, which failed 45-74.

“This budget balances and doesn’t require a tax increase,” said Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Overland Park, who is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. “Maybe we need to remember that Kansans all across the state have had to cut their budgets.”

But Democrats blasted the plan, saying it would make harmful cuts on top of $1 billion that has already been cut from what was once a $6.4 billion budget. And Parkinson, a Democrat, said he would veto the proposal.

Rep. Ann Mah, D-Topeka, called the House GOP leadership plan the “new Walmart.” She added, “You can’t have government small enough to drown in a bathtub and big enough to pull your behind out of a flooded river.”

Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, attacked proposed cuts to services for those with disabilities and a 45 percent slice out of an early childhood block grant. “These cuts hurt children,” Ballard said.

But business interests stepped up pressure on legislators to oppose any tax increase, and instead called for balancing the budget with spending cuts alone.

“Simply put, we cannot tax our way to economic recovery,” said a letter given to legislators that was signed by 13 members of the Kansas Chamber executive board. Those signing the letter included leaders at some of the largest businesses in Kansas, including Koch Industries, AT&T;, Cox Communications, Cessna Aircraft, and Cargill.


getreal 5 years, 6 months ago

Those businesses opposing services for the disabled, seniors, and our schools should be ashamed: "signing the letter included leaders at some of the largest businesses in Kansas, including Koch Industries, AT&T, Cox Communications, Cessna Aircraft, and Cargill." Look at the companies that Koch owns and avoid their products!!

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 6 months ago

"opposing services for the disabled, seniors, and our schools..."

No one opposes services, getreal.

But like a family going through a budget crisis, our state government needs to make the difficult spending decisions which are required to reconcile income with expenditures.

And during an economic downturn, the last thing we want to do is increase taxes on Kansas families and job providers.

geekyhost 5 years, 6 months ago

If you cut those services, you also lose the matching federal grants that accompany them. You'll also lose the wages of parents and children forced to take time off from work to then care for their elderly or disabled charges. You'll spend more as the disabled are forced into institutional care instead of using home and community based services, and if you don't put the funding in for disabled children for rehabilitative services, you'll potentially lose their future wages. Talk about fiscally irresponsible.

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 6 months ago

We all know that matching federal grant programs are a form of coercion: "Do what we want or we'll withhold funding from your state." What a sham.

And I don't know anyone suggesting we eliminate social services. However, targeted and responsible spending reductions are required in times of financial crisis. I would fully expect to the parents and children of the elderly and disabled to make additional sacrifices during times like these.

Finally, the government won't force the disabled into institutional care if its more expensive than home based services. Such a prediction has little basis in reality.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Well, they've already cut $1 billion from the budget.

And generally, it is in fact education and social services that get targeted for cuts.

Finally, the other interpretation of federal matching grants are that they will split the cost of certain items with the state, rather than covering the entire amount or offering nothing at all.

Viewfinder 5 years, 6 months ago

Matching federal funds is more along the lines of, "take care of your vulnerable citizens and we'll help you pay for it."

You expect the parents and children of the elderly and disabled to make additional sacrifices? How 'bout spending an extra dime for a can of pop? Which makes more sense?

And no, the government won't force anyone into institutional care, they just won't pay for any care at all. They'll put you on a waiting list. For years. So the 25 year old kid with mental retardation is still living at home with mom and dad. But hey, you saved a dime.

geekyhost 5 years, 6 months ago

If you are the parent of a disabled child, you can opt to terminate your parental rights, in which case those children are cared for by the state - institutionally if they can't find foster parents willing to do it. I know social workers who oversee foster care, and although this is rare, it does happen.

geekyhost 5 years, 6 months ago

Parents of disabled children are expected to make additional sacrifices during good economic times. I've yet to meet parents who have had all their disability related expenses met by state or insurance funds, and it can be a struggle to get services at school even during the best of times, too.

Middle class parents can likely afford partial services (we're talking about bills of $1400 per week for some therapies.) And well-off parents still send their kids to the special $40,000 a year schools that nobody else could afford, anyway.

So what happens is the poor to lower middle class parents will just be unable to provide their kids any services. Their kids will pay the bill later on, as will the taxpayer when a child that could have lived independently with early therapy ends up needing to live off of disability instead.

It would be awesome if it were just a matter of putting of college for a year or two or not buying a new toy. But when you're talking about getting physical therapy for a two year old, that child can't wait until they're five to qualify for services.

jmadison 5 years, 6 months ago

Did Kansas opt in to fund the pool for insurance for high risk individuals? This could potentially put Kansas taxpayers at risk to fund a huge additional revenue need considering the underfunding that the current Congress has provided for this portion of Obamacare. A report in the Washington Post raises concerns about this underfunding.


gr 5 years, 6 months ago

Equal and fair marriage for all (as long as it's only me) so say some homosexuals even though the same inform us that such have been marrying for years.

What's fair about these tax increases? They are going to reduce taxes for some and increase them for others. That is, increase an already increased rate against those which some such as getreal hate. How is that fair?

For those needing to get real, what would be "fair" taxes for you? Go ahead, state what would be fair and how you would see it as being "fair"?

gr 5 years, 6 months ago


No. What did you not understand in the comparison about "fair"?

Steve Miller 5 years, 6 months ago

Maybe one of you could help me understand how tax increases can fix the economy, it only snow balls the defecit problem. We need value added jobs, industry, not higher taxes, wake up..

geekyhost 5 years, 6 months ago

Well, taxes pay for roads you can use to drive to your job, police to keep your stuff safe while you're at work, and your children to be educated so that they, too, can contribute to the economy by working and creating jobs. Not to mention that teachers, occupational therapists, road pavers, and other government employees are working. At jobs. And laying them off just means more people gathering unemployment and not working. Koch isn't going to hire them.

staff04 5 years, 6 months ago

“You can’t have government small enough to drown in a bathtub and big enough to pull your behind out of a flooded river.”

So true, yet persistently forgotten.

Steve Miller 5 years, 6 months ago

What comes first, the taxes of the jobs ??

somedude20 5 years, 6 months ago

Boy I sure do wish that every time I overspent my budget I could force my bosses hand and make him give me more money

Viewfinder 5 years, 6 months ago

Boy, I sure do wish that every time I had a bill to pay, I could just say, "Sorry, I don't have any money."

geekyhost 5 years, 6 months ago

Boy, I wish I was your boss, so I could tell you that I've cut your paycheck out of the budget but expect you to get more efficient at your job.

Viewfinder 5 years, 6 months ago

Or, maybe it's just like geeky said. In the real world of providing services to people with disabilities, the government is your only customer and your only customer tells you how much they're going to pay you for your service. When your only customer tells you that they're going to pay you less money than they did last year, then yes, you let people go and then you cut back on your services. Which means that the people that you serve, who rely on you for everything from outings to the grocery store to personal safety, get less service.

THEN you go to the legislature and DEMAND more money. Then some guy representing the soft drink industry and some guy representing car dealerships DEMAND that the legislature not raise any more money because people won't buy soft drinks if they cost another dime and people won't buy new cars if they cost another $250.

You decide what is vital.

mr_right_wing 5 years, 6 months ago

If I could afford to, I'd ship a bushel of turnips over to the state house.

I"m sorry...and it's horrible that we don't have the money...but that's the problem; we don't have the money! Come back again after the economy turns around.

I'll ask this again as well; why are we not taxing porn with our other 'sin' taxes? Could it be that our 'honorable' legislators are involved with.....well.....I don't need to make any libel or slanderous statements.

mr_right_wing 5 years, 6 months ago

Hmmmmmm....you know, since I'm not a coffee drinker I can't say I'd object to a coffee tax, and if we're talking about a tax on all these fancy coffees people drink today.....well.....wow....$$$$$$$$!!

Starbucks might just become the #1 tax revenue raiser for the USA.

Don't distract me though! Tax porn too!!

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