Brownback wants to change tax structure

? Gov. Sam Brownback says he wants to change the state’s tax system, and he has tasked Kansas Department of Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan to come up with some recommendations.

“The bottom line is, how do we grow the economy?” Jordan said.

Asked what he is looking at, Jordan said, “It’s all on the table.”

So far, Jordan has formed a group that has met a couple of times. The group includes Richard Cram, head of policy and research at the Revenue Department; Steve Stotts, director of taxation; the leaders of the House and Senate tax committees; and various state agency heads, according to revenue public information officer Jeannine Koranda.

More people will be pulled into the discussion as talks continue, Jordan said.

Jordan said he hopes to present several tax-change options to Brownback this fall, which would give the governor time to have a plan ready for the 2012 legislative session that starts in January.

Brownback, a Republican, is champing at the bit, mentioning several times the need for changing the state structure, specifically to reduce the state income tax.

Brownback also has noted in speeches that Kansas is losing population to states such as Texas, which has no state income tax. But several tax studies note that Kansas’ income tax is the most progressive portion of its tax structure.

During the last legislative session, House Republicans passed a plan to make permanent reductions in income taxes when state revenues grow. But critics of the plan in the Senate said it would have crippled needed services that have already been hurt by recent budget cuts.

Meanwhile, Democrats, who are in the minority in the House and Senate, have argued for fairer taxes by closing sales tax exemptions. But attempts to shut down these exemptions have failed to gain any traction.