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Archive for Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Something to hide?

The secrecy surrounding a state tax task force doesn’t inspire confidence.

October 12, 2011

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By any definition, a task force must have members, so assuming there really is a “task force” working on what could be dramatic changes in the Kansas tax structure, why can’t the Kansans who will be affected by those changes know who its members are?

Not only are state officials keeping the members of the task force secret, they also are operating entirely out of the public view, offering the people of Kansas no opportunity for input.

When the Journal-World pressed a Department of Revenue spokeswoman about the makeup of the task force, she refused to give any names or details. She identified a couple of department staff members who “are being consulted” about tax policy. She also said that legislative leaders have been consulted, but only Republican leaders, no Democrats. Others who have been consulted, she said, include “various state agency heads, economists and business owners. … This is not an appointed group.”

So is there really a task force, or is this just Gov. Sam Brownback and Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan collecting input from a group of like-minded business and government associates, many of whom could have a financial stake in the outcome of the discussions?

The department spokeswoman wouldn’t identify any of the business owners who were being consulted, but Brownback’s ties to, for instance, the multibillionaire Koch brothers is well known. The spokeswoman did confirm that Arthur Laffer, one of the architects of President Ronald Reagan’s supply-side economics strategy, is being paid $75,000 for “providing his expertise” on the tax proposal. Laffer’s guiding principle is that lowering certain tax rates will result in economic benefits that more than offset the lost tax revenue. It is a theory that has been discounted by many economists, but has support in some circles, apparently including the Kansas governor’s office.

Regardless of what direction this group is taking, the people of Kansas deserve to know what is going on and to have some input on the process. To that end, Senate Majority Leader Steve Morris announced Tuesday that he was forming his own tax study group to analyze options for reducing taxes and creating a more business-friendly environment. He appointed Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita, as the group’s chairman and named three other senators as members. He said the Senate minority leader would be invited to appoint a representative to the group, which also will include members of the public.

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

Morris also noted, “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. We’re not willing to let those same mistakes be made in Kansas.”

Morris’ effort shows some courage that people in his district and across the state should appreciate. Morris and at least one of the senators he appointed to the study group already face opponents in the upcoming Republican primary. It seems likely they already are being targeted by the conservative wing of the Kansas Republican Party because they supposedly have not been supportive enough of a conservative agenda for the state.

The only problem with Morris’ study group is that it isn’t scheduled to start meeting until the 2012 legislative session. By that time, the existing “task force” already will have a fully formed proposal on the table.

The secrecy surrounding the work on new state tax policies certainly leaves the impression that there’s something about this process that the governor and his revenue secretary want to hide from the people of Kansas. If that’s not the case, state officials need to open this process to public input and scrutiny.

Comments

Jan Rolls 2 years, 6 months ago

Speaking of reagan why don't all of you right wing nuts google his 1985 speech and watch his video where he says the rich aren't being taxed fairly and they should pay their fair share instead of putting the burden on the middle class. Since you refer to reagan as your savior why not listen to what he said.

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Liberty275 2 years, 6 months ago

Something to hide?

Washington (CNN) - Congress isn't getting a glimpse of what's on President Barack Obama's Blackberry - or any more internal White House communications related to the bankrupt solar company Solyndra, which received a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal government.

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/10/14/source-white-house-will-not-turn-over-all-solyndra-documents/

Something to hide?

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Alexander Smith 2 years, 6 months ago

Well after our lovely moron Gov. lost the state of Kansas Millions of dollars as act of defiance against Obama. This latest act doesn't suprise me.

The GOP amazes me how blind they are on how the economy works. They wan't to cut taxes to make them look good as if the tax cut will put money back in the publics pockets that is of any value.. which is very little since the amount would be less then noticable. Unless inflation comes to a complete standstill, which it won't, you MUST increase taxes. GOP can't figure this one out. They just want to cut more programs, put more people on welfare. What also kills me is the GOP thinks our tax system is working just fine and no loop holes need to be closed.

OH to add another off the topic spin to this post. The GOP is sooo big on individual rights, one them which we know is all about freedom of religion, how come then...do they consistantly bring faith into the things they do. A perfect example is gay marriage?? what is driving this?? some scientific study?? some research that says it will destroy America?? OR..or just ORR.. its religious based..Hummm could it be. OH wait... it couldn't be that..we are country based on freedom of religion. No influence there.

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kansasredlegs 2 years, 6 months ago

Where was the outcry in this community when DG CO and City leaders met in secret to discuss funding the SRS building by improperly utilizing the executive session process? Apparently, as long as you support the idea or elected official it's not an issue.

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 6 months ago

A six year old article from a propaganda site may not be the most relevant thing on this thread, bub.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 6 months ago

If corporations got rid of taxes where would they go for tax incentives? aka pork barrel?

This bogus group,until we know otherwise, will come out with money for fundamentalist schools thus depleting public school funding evermore drastic..... which of course may be against the law?

This may provide a sneak peek as to how this group will be proceeding: http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0705rebne.html

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frankwiles 2 years, 6 months ago

A theory is simply the most elaborate form of consistent scientific knowledge not yet disproved by experiment. It doesn't mean it's "lesser". Nearly all science is "just a theory" because science is open to the fact that its ideas can be, at a later date and with more information, proven incorrect. To clear up the definition for everyone.

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Maggotpunk 2 years, 6 months ago

Brownback certainly doesn't want to advertise the details on how he'll destroy Kansas' economy to please the Koch brothers and his friends at The Fellowship. If word got out even Republicans would be upset and Brownback might have to hear from the rabble.

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Willie_Green 2 years, 6 months ago

Partisan acolytes of Laffer's theory deliberately ignore that the function follows a curve. The obstinately insist that revenues will always increase no matter how much you lower taxes. In reality, that is only true for excessively high tax rates. There is an "optimal" point on the curve where tax revenues are maximized. Below that point, lower tax rates also lower tax revenues the same as having excessive tax rates.

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rockchalk1977 2 years, 6 months ago

More red meat for the Lawrence Association of Brownback Haters (BLAH) . All religious bigots begin posting comments now.

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jaywalker 2 years, 6 months ago

"The secrecy surrounding the work on new state tax policies certainly leaves the impression that there’s something about this process that the governor and his revenue secretary want to hide from the people of Kansas. If that’s not the case, state officials need to open this process to public input and scrutiny."

That's an exceptionally weak and simple-minded conclusion to an op-ed.

"The only problem with Morris’ study group is that it isn’t scheduled to start meeting until the 2012 legislative session. By that time, the existing “task force” already will have a fully formed proposal on the table."

Well then, perhaps 'Morris' study group' should pull their heads out and get to work.

“This isn’t something that should be done behind closed doors by a bunch of bureaucrats.”

Absolutely correct! It should be done openly by a bunch of bureaucrats. The difference is staggering.

" It is a theory that has been discounted by many economists, but has support in some circles, apparently including the Kansas governor’s office."

Written like you were still in high school. Are you kidding with that?

This was simply a stinker of an editorial. While the subject matter is topical, this must have been farmed out to Free State or LHS, perhaps a Kansan freshman at best. Atrocious.

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Paul R Getto 2 years, 6 months ago

mloburgio (anonymous) says… Taxes and Budgets Efforts to Reshape the Tax Code to Benefit Big Business and the Ultra Rich... Through ALEC, corporations have both a VOICE and a VOTE on specific state laws through these model bills. Do you? ==== M: Good points. I liked the sign at one of the protests: "I'll believe corporations are people when they execute one of them." This battle is as old as the Roman Empire and continues today. The sheeple, should they awake, could fight back, but they are generally lazy and like to whine more than work at politics. The 'rich' are more organized and you can't blame them for trying to get richer. When it is at the expense of the rest of us and the movements such as ALEC basically want to get rid of government, fees, regulations and taxes, the battle lines are clearly drawn. Gonna be an interesting next few years as we see who 'wins' in the end. Too bad we can't win as Americans all, but that feeling seems to be fading in the new ideologies.

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Fossick 2 years, 6 months ago

"The only problem with Morris’ study group is that it isn’t scheduled to start meeting until the 2012 legislative session. "

Since it's Morris's study group, perhaps he could change the schedule a little bit. Complaining about the fact that your opponents are outmaneuvering you while you sit in place seems an odd tactic.

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Paul R Getto 2 years, 6 months ago

"...left-wing bias that J-W editorials have generally displayed for at least a decade now" === That is a fascinating observation. I would never consider Dolph a left wing, socialist type. To each his own.

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Keith 2 years, 6 months ago

Glad to see the editor is waking up to the fiasco that is Governor Brownback. Can we assume you won't be endorsing him next time around?

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mloburgio 2 years, 6 months ago

Taxes and Budgets Efforts to Reshape the Tax Code to Benefit Big Business and the Ultra Rich This page documents how bills pushed by ALEC corporations would create tax giveaways to Big Business, give tax breaks to the richest, and eviscerate state legislatures' ability to raise revenue through tax increases. These "model bills" and resolutions also push for extending the Bush tax cuts and attempt to use temporary legislative majorities to tie the hands of future majorities to raise taxes to meet citizens' needs. Through ALEC, corporations have both a VOICE and a VOTE on specific state laws through these model bills. Do you? http://alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 6 months ago

Editorials like this one are typical of the left-wing bias that J-W editorials have generally displayed for at least a decade now. Example: "Laffer’s guiding principle is that lowering certain tax rates will result in economic benefits that more than offset the lost tax revenue. It is a theory that has been discounted by many economists, but has support in some circles, apparently including the Kansas governor’s office."

For the edification of the editorial writer, it also had support in the office of President Ronald Reagan, whose two terms got our economy going again and set us in motion for the economic boom of the '90s, which was also greatly assisted by having a Republican Congress for 6 of the 8 years Bill Clinton was in office.

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Paul R Getto 2 years, 6 months ago

"The only problem with Morris’ study group is that it isn’t scheduled to start meeting until the 2012 legislative session. By that time, the existing “task force” already will have a fully formed proposal on the table." === Good point here. By the time the 'data' is collected the ideologues will have presented their faith-based plan. We have been through some of this before in the past generation of legislation and tax-cutting. If tax cuts delivered as advertised, we should be living in paradise by now.

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