Tax caution

The Kansas tax system may need revision, but lawmakers should carefully consider both the positive and negative effects of any changes.

June 3, 2011


In recent speeches and talks with reporters, Gov. Sam Brownback has repeated two interesting points related to the state’s economy.

One is that Kansas needs to restructure its tax system to look more like that of Texas, which has no state individual or corporate income tax. Texas, Brownback notes, is an economic powerhouse compared with Kansas, and the lack of income taxes in the Lone Star State is part of its success, he says.

Brownback also says that Kansas has already done the difficult job of building a solid public school system and a great network of roads. He believes a change in the state’s tax system would help make Kansas even more attractive for business and industry.

But let’s think about this. The current Kansas tax system has helped develop our current school system and road system. Would a change in our tax system harm our schools or roads?

And do Kansans really want to become more like Texas? Texas is a great state, and we mean no offense, but Kansas public schools are better than those in Texas, and Kansas roads are better. We would like to keep it that way.

Kansas ranks significantly ahead of Texas in National Education Progress Reports, ACT scores and graduation rates. Reader’s Digest, which ranked the nation’s roads in its April 2010 issue based on various federal data, said Kansas roads were the best in the nation while Texas ranked 29th.

Another statement the governor has made several times in the past several weeks is that Kansas should focus on what it is and not lament what it is not. That seems like good advice. Brownback and others should move slowly and keep an open mind when considering major changes to the state’s tax structure. What is in fashion today in some circles may not be what is in the best long-term interests of the state.


Paul R Getto 6 years, 11 months ago

Good points; people move to Texas for lots of reasons, taxes just being one of them. A $27,000,000,000 billion dollar deficit is not a good model to emulate. Maybe we need a beach in Kansas like Texas has. Will that bring 'em in? We used to have beaches, but that was millions of years ago before the continents move apart and broke up that good old Pangea. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pangaea First, of course, we'd have to get Muscular Sam to admit there actually WAS a 250 million years ago.

Lindsey Buscher 6 years, 11 months ago


Well played, one of the best posts of the year.

James Roper 6 years, 11 months ago

Right. Not only do lower taxes make everyone wealthier, healthier and just plain old better off, eliminating more revenue might help us look more like...Houston?

With a little hard work, and of course an absence of corporate taxation, we needn't look to Texas for inspiration for quality of life. We've got our own homegrown inspirations. Like Galena. Or Treece.

funkdog1 6 years, 11 months ago

Texas has several things we don't: oil, natural gas and tourism. Sheesh.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 11 months ago

Brownback needs to be realistic when comparing Kansas to states without income and corporate taxes. And comparing us to Texas is kinda like comparing apples to orangutans.

If he truly wants to look at a comparable state without individual and corporate income taxes, then he needs to compare us to, say, South Dakota or Wyoming. Like Kansas, they are small, rural "flyover" states. Like Kansas they have no big destination cities. Except for South Dakota with Mount Rushmore, there's no "draw" to get significant numbers of people to visit...or stay. (Like it or not, the Flint Hills will never be "the next big thing to pop".)

Unfortunately, Brownback apparently isn't able to put things into perspective. Apparently he thinks that, if Texas is "an economic power" compared Kansas, then it MUST be because of having no state or corporate income taxes. However, he conveniently ignores even the most pertinent data, such as Texas also having a lower per capita income (so much for Texans being better off than Kansans) and a higher cost-of-living than Kansas. Or that Texas has a corporate franchise tax in lieu of a corporate income tax.

Or, as Made-in-China points out, a $27 BILLION deficit...compared to Kansas' approximately $1/2 billion.

Texas, with its 25 million people has10 times has many people as Kansas ...but has a budget deficit FIFTY TIMES greater than Kansas. We should emulate them...why???

average 6 years, 11 months ago

Texas also has unemployment rates more than a full percentage point higher than Kansas. And has throughout the entire recession. Higher child poverty rates. And, for the moral brigade, higher divorce rates.

Way to set your sights high, Sam. Of course, to many of Sam's buddies, higher unemployment (= cheap labor) is a wonderful thing.

usnsnp 6 years, 11 months ago

No personnel income tax, but property taxes 2 to 3 time as highigher than us.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 11 months ago

usnsnp: Good points. There are some smaller accounts, but generally, states get money from sales, income and property taxes. The best mix to provide stability is about 1/3 for each. States who distort this balance (as Kansas has done over the past 20 or so years) generally have some troubles maintaining steady resources. Texas is a good example of this. Usually, they solve the problem by having lousy services, particularly for the poor. Ya gets what ya pay for, huh?

WilburM 6 years, 11 months ago

Serious coherence in comments today on this editorial. Is the heat keeping nut cases from typing up their (sic) thoughts.? Seriously -- good editorial, great comments.

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