Topeka Gov. Sam Brownback on Friday denied his proposed plan to cut taxes was being formed in secret.
Brownback, a Republican, will officially unveil his tax proposal next month, and a group formed by recent Kansas Republican Party leaders who worked to get Brownback elected has started a campaign to advocate for elimination of the state income tax.
Brownback and his top lieutenants have said they want to reduce the income tax, but they have also kept a tight grip on information about a task force that meets in secret and is putting together Brownback’s final plan.
On Friday, Brownback said discussions on tax policy have been open.
“This is not being developed clandestinely,” he said.
Brownback said he has traveled across the state to meet with numerous groups in public settings to get input on the state’s tax laws.
The task force putting together the tax plan is working with Kansas Department of Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan. The task force’s meetings have been private, and the Brownback administration has declined to reveal the identity of some of its members.
The Journal-World has filed a request under the state Open Records law for information about the task force. The specific request is for access to or copies of minutes, agendas and policy papers of the task force. The Revenue Department has said it may take until Nov. 30 to respond to the newspaper’s request.
By then, Brownback’s plan will have been made public, according to statements his office made Friday.
Sherienne Jones-Sontag said Brownback is hoping to have the proposal ready shortly after state officials meet Nov. 4 to put together a revenue estimate for the next fiscal year.
Meanwhile, a group called Kansans for No Income Tax has formed to promote elimination of the state income tax.
The group’s president is Ashley McMillan, former executive director of the Kansas Republican Party.
McMillan said she hoped Brownback’s plan would eliminate the state income tax. The group is planning a bus tour of the state in early November, she said.
She said eliminating income taxes would increase the wealth of Kansans.
Democrats have criticized proposals to reduce or eliminate state personal or corporate income taxes because they make up about half of the state’s tax collections. Democratic leaders say that reducing those levies will cripple areas such as education, social services and public safety, and will result in increases in local property taxes.