Archive for Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Statehouse Live: Senate President Morris to form tax study committee; wants citizen input

October 11, 2011, 8:31 a.m. Updated October 11, 2011, 4:54 p.m.


— Citing a need for public input in tax policy, Kansas Senate President Steve Morris on Tuesday announced that he was forming a bipartisan committee to study options for reducing taxes.

“Right now, there are a lot of ideas being floated around, but what they all seem to be missing is citizen input,” said Morris, a Republican from Hugoton. “This isn’t something that should be done behind closed doors by a bunch of bureaucrats.”

The move stood in contrast to the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback, also a Republican, who is promising to push tax cuts through the Legislature.

Nick Jordan, Brownback’s Kansas Department of Revenue secretary, is leading the effort to produce a plan, but none of those discussions or deliberations have been open to the public. Brownback has said he wants to cut state income taxes.

Morris said he expected several proposals to be up for consideration, including Brownback’s — ones that have been proposed in the past by various legislators, and others. Morris said he wants to make Kansas tax policy more business-friendly.

Morris said public input is crucial in devising ways to lower taxes.

“One of the reasons Washington got itself into so much trouble is because they listened to special-interest groups instead of the folks on Main Street,” he said. “We’re not willing to let those same mistakes be made in Kansas.”

Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita, and chair of the Senate tax committee, will serve as chair of the tax study group. Others named to the group include state Sens. Dick Kelsey, R-Goddard, Jeff Longbine, R-Emporia, and Vicki Schmidt, R-Topeka.

Public members of the study group will be named once the legislative session starts. The group will be tasked with making a recommendation to the Senate tax committee for action, Morris said.

Morris invited Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka to name a member to the group, and Hensley picked Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City.

“I support President Morris’ call for a transparent, bipartisan study group that will allow the people of Kansas to participate in discussions over future tax reform issues,” Hensley said. “Kansas taxpayers have the right to know how these reforms will affect their pocketbooks, and have the right to voice their opinions before members of the Legislature.”

Holland is the ranking Democrat on the Senate tax committee, has worked on tax issues for years, and was the Democratic nominee for governor last year.

In recent days, Democrats have stepped up voicing their concerns about Brownback’s statements about eliminating or reducing the state income tax. Brownback has said that will attract more businesses to Kansas.

But House Democratic Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence said decreasing income taxes would increase pressure to hike sales and property taxes.

“I agree that we should reform our tax structure, but only if it gives everyone a fair shake and provides relief to those who need it the most. If Gov. Brownback and the Republican Legislature believe we have the ability to significantly cut taxes, why not eliminate the sales tax on groceries,” Davis said.


jayhawklawrence 6 years, 1 month ago

I think Brownback is starting to scare people.

Whether Morris is sincere or just running for cover remains to be seen.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 1 month ago

Good idea, but Muscular Sam don't need no input from others. He's been blessed with the revealed truth. I hope Senator Morris can get some decent, nonideological feedback. Good luck, sir.

vuduchyld 6 years, 1 month ago

Welcome to Brownbackistan, it's where Kansas used to be Welcome to Brownbackistan, it's our new theocracy Brownback and Koch call all the shots, we're governed by the rich The wealthy all get wealthier and the rest can all eat s%$#

the video:

Alceste 6 years, 1 month ago

Oh my word. Morris knows what he's doing. This call is simply a front for "window dressing"......a glaringly obvious, contemptable cloak of legitimacy to what Brownback's chosen have pretty much already done....

Bear in mind, Good Ole' Mr. Wilson....errr...."Senator Morris" has given himself and his cronies a nice fat retirement pension right off the backs "....of the folks on Main Street....". Here's how Mr. Nice Guy....errr....."Senator Morris" is permitted to figure his state of Kansas funded KPERS retirement benefit.....but before Alceste puts that down....bear in mind Funny Math Senator Morris figures there are 372 days in a year!

Even though state "senators" and "representatives" only really "earn" for a couple of months of the year, they get credit for earning it all year long.

This is how annualization is calculated:

•$88.66 (daily rate) x 31 (days) x 12 (months) = $32,981.52

•$123 (subsistence) x 31 (days) x 12 (months) = $45,756

•$7,083 non-session allowance.

Altogether, that equals $85,820.52, and that's the pay figure that would be used for that legislator retiring now.

Now then, this political hack Morris, president of the Kansas hillbilly senate or whatever the operation is, has defended this obscene payout because legislators work for " little money....". Ok....if that is the case, why aren't all civil servants for the state of Kansas allowed to have their KPERS benefit calculated on a 372 day work year?

In calendar year 2010, employer contributions for legislators in KPERS slightly topped $900,000.

A legislator retiring with an annualized pay of $85,820.52, and with 10 years' service, would have an annual KPERS benefit of $15,018.60, for a monthly benefit of $1,251.55, according to KPERS. If the retiring legislator had 20 years' service, the annual benefit would be $30,037.20, and monthly, $2,503.10. The Senate president and House speaker are at the top of the pay scale, and annualized pay for those posts could be as high as $99,859.74, depending on their enrollment choices.

A state social services worker in a supervisory role retired in 1995 after 15 years and draws a monthly KPERS benefit of $524. That is equal to the monthly benefit for a county-level commercial appraiser who retired at 65, vested at nine years with KPERS.

Man, this is some amusing stuff!!! Aren't legislators supposed to be servants of the people? Isn't the common thinking that people run for office, not to get rich, but to serve? We sure do think stupid real good like in this state: The people who do the day to day work which make Kansas run have their KPERS figured one way.....and the galoots who pose for 3 months a year as "legislators" get to figure their KPERS benefit in a totally different, more better the point where they've invented a new calendar: 372 days in a year and they work each and every one of them!! Woo Hoo!!!

It's for the children, you know. shrug

Alceste 6 years, 1 month ago


Don't forget "Senator Morris" has been a Class AAA Professional Welfare recipient, having received over $796,185.00 from USDA handouts between 1995 - - - 2010

This guy is a REAL class act. Not. "....the folks on Main Street....." indeed.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 1 month ago

Alceste: Your pension analysis is, I believe, correct, but what does it have to do with Muscular Sam's attempts to gut government by eliminating taxes? Sadly, most of the states have seen this sleight of hand. I wish we actually paid them 90k a year and could eliminate the pension. If they were paid, we might have some besides the retired and the idle rich running for office. Senator Morris is a good guy and one of those we need to keep in Senate to act as a backstop to some of the Gov's more onerous ideas.

Alceste 6 years, 1 month ago

Made_in_China (Paul R. Getto):

It has everything under the sun to do with the whole whacked up situation we have collectively placed ourselves in. "Senator Morris is a good guy"???? How you figure that? Where'd that set of values come from? "Senator Morris" ain't done diddly squat for the working man and woman in this state, let alone those who do the state's bidding as civil servants.

The monied have always controlled government, be it on a National, state, county, city, town, precinct basis. Yes, even in Lawrence, Kansas, USA. It's the way it is, sadly. Didn't used to be quite so blunt back when....but this is 2011, not 1951......

Morris ACTIVELY assisted Brownback's ascension to the throne. Morris is part and parcel an integral aspect of THE problem because of the sense of entitlement he brings with his sorry backside to the PEOPLE of the state of Kansas. The really sad thing, however, is that PEOPLE of the state of Kansas keep voting for the charlatan.

You actually think Morris isn't running a play for his quarterback, Brownback (Alceste DETESTS sports metaphors, but the lumpen understand them, so Alceste uses them) on this scheme this article is about? "....the folks on Main Street....". You actually think Morris is back peddling his support for Brownback with these absurd set ups? What does this fat cat know about life on Main Street??? Answer: NOTHING. Alceste don't need the likes of Hugoton's Morris making ying yang decisons for the common folk of Kansas. "He's a good guy." Good Grief. When ward heel politicians stop paying themselves; right obvious wrongs (like this KPERS calculation), etc., let Alceste know and Alceste will begin to re-consider what's what....but until this confederecy of dunces does so, their primary purpose for Alceste are to be objects of humor and ridicule and scorn.

Morris has learned how to manipulate. Nothing more and nothing less. He's a hack Kansas politician...but.....again.....We The PEOPLE keep electing these knaves. Incredible.

KSRed 6 years, 1 month ago

Alceste: It’s funny that you are so angry at our state senators for seeking input from the public for tax proposals, but you aren’t upset that the Department of Revenue is paying some hack $75,000 to develop a secret tax plan for Kansas that will impact all of us. I think it’s sad that Brownback’s cabinet secretaries and their top deputies make more money than any previous administration – Republican or Democrat. Yet, even after making all that money they still don’t have the expertise on hand to develop a tax policy.

You are right though, we need to have a conversation about KPERS, but if you think any legislator (at the state level) runs for office to get rich – you’re nuts. I wonder if you have the numbers handy for what a member of Congress makes in retirement? Sam Brownback served for over 15 years at a salary of almost $200,000 per year. And, Brownback’s family owns farm property in Linn County too. I wonder how much his family has received from the federal government in subsidies?

BTW, if you think Morris is running anything for Brownback then you clearly don’t understand Kansas politics. Brownback recruited Morris’ opponent for this upcoming election….sounds like a cozy relationship to me.

Sounds like you should look at the whole picture before your next rant.

Alceste 6 years, 1 month ago


Amusing comments from you.

The effort to suggest that their are major league "rifts" between the right wing Kansas political hacks is the most amusing. Simply go to and you'll easily be able to discover how much federal welfare the Brownback clan has been receiving. I've posted it several times before: Try and keep up.

I don't recall specifically stating that these Kansas hillbilly's become members of the "legislature" " get rich....". I do recall noting they pay themselves quite well on the back side through this KPERS non-sense. Too, I do recall that the monied run for office and elect themselves. Find me a couple of broke or struggling Kansas legislators and legitimize your suggestion they ain't well heeled, please.

KSRed.....I do believe I have looked quite closely at the "whole picture", thus my amusement. The real question is, "Have you?". Seemingly, KSRed wants to assert that Brownback is a "different kind" of Red Neck Right Winger than the others in Topeka? Sorry.....not buying that one one bit......they're all pretty much cut from the same cloth. You really think them guys get upset with each other when there's that Separation of the wheat from the chaff?

Alceste 6 years, 1 month ago

However, the larger question remains: "Why do taxes NEED to be lowered???"! Revenue from taxation needs to be increased, not decreased. Kansas needs to join the 21st century.

The real question is HOW to make these necessary tax increases and where? Anyone knows the true answer is to tax the wealthy, and how. shrug Then the next query is "Who are the wealthy?" Let's ask "....the folks on Main Street...." that very question. I rather suspect the numbers supplied will really annoy a good number of the wealthy, who consider themselves "middle class"!

tomatogrower 6 years, 1 month ago

Or get a second job, or a better paying job.

Alceste 6 years, 1 month ago

autie has made a most excellent analogy of our dolts in Topeka and Washington. We deserve the government we get. We deserve the legislators we elect. We deserve everything Brownback and his cronies, and if anyone wants to think Morris isn't a Brownback crony, anyone gets an "F", are giving us and how.

Morris and Tom Sloan (REPUBLICAN from Lawrence) may be 2nd tier Brownback cronies, but that's an internal "family matter" because cronies they be.

wastewatcher 6 years, 1 month ago

This is simply a grandstand play by Morris and the LIBERAL PRESS. Remember the Governor can only propose tax reform, it must be enacted by the legislature. And ther will be plenty of time for hearings on the proposals.. Why didn't Morris propose a joint committe and include House members on the plan if he really wanted to get something done.. Anyway you cut it , it seems like grandstanding to me and another waste of our taxes.

Sparko 6 years, 1 month ago

You have got to be kidding me. Reduce taxes? Can the state get any more 3rd worldy?:

"The Topeka City Council on Tuesday voted to repeal the city’s law against misdemeanor domestic battery, the latest in a budget battle that has freed about 30 abuse suspects from charges.

One of the offenders was even arrested and released twice since the brouhaha broke out Sept. 8."

tomatogrower 6 years, 1 month ago

Yes, the rich can't be bothered to pay for law and order. It's not their problem when a spouse hits another spouse. Apparently in Topeka it's ok to beat your spouse, as long as you don't do a lot of damage. Real classy hicks.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

"If Gov. Brownback and the Republican Legislature believe we have the ability to significantly cut taxes, why not eliminate the sales tax on groceries,” Davis said."

That's a simple one-- the Koch brothers don't spend all that much more on sales taxes for groceries than someone who earns minimum wage.

William Weissbeck 6 years, 1 month ago

The first question should be whether the premise is even correct, "are taxes too high?" That's way too broad. The better questions are, are we taxing the wrong sources, is the tax base too narrow, are we raising sufficient revenue, are we spending the revenue on the correct things? The GOP's approach is to buy 10 gallons of fuel before determining how far the trip will be, what's the vehicle's mileage, and worse, whether is diesel, e-85 or regular.

As to Topeka. This is a sad example of what to expect. States will reduce state outlays to local governments to the point that many places will become too dependent on property and other local taxes. Towns and cities that do not have critical mass or unique situations will suffer. See the towns throughout Michigan. We will become like the cities throughout the less developed world where those who can will live in walled and guarded compounds and send their kids to their select local schools. We will become a society of gated entrances. The affluent would rather pay for walls than for a civilized, educated society.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 1 month ago

A good place to start the discussion: Here are the research studies commissioned by the legislature on erosion of the tax base: Hugo Wall School of Urban and Public Affairs Wichita State University ======= Roughly 90% of the property and 75% of the sales go untaxed. If you read all of these two reports, that's what you will find at the end of the day. Enjoy!

Kathie 6 years, 1 month ago

Does anyone really believe that Sam's administration wants public input about anything. He came into office pushing his agendas without consideration to anyone. Not taxpayers, state employees and most of all women. He just thinks he is so righteous that he can do whatever he want whether legal, moral or other wise. What he is doing to our state is really scary. Wake up people don't put up with this hiding behind closed doors to make decisions and then hit taxpayers upside the head with surprise after surprise. Please Senator Morris don't expect us to fall for this. Anyone who has been watching state politics since January 2011 cannot believe that Republicans in general Brownback's cronies in particular want any input from anyone but his handpicked few.

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