Topeka Opponents to Gov. Sam Brownback's proposal for cutting Kansas income tax rates said Wednesday the Republican's plan is misguided and would punish working families.
Representatives of the Working Kansas Alliance said the tax cuts and a raft of other employment bills were an attack on workers' rights and would not create jobs.
"Blaming working families for the sluggish economy is a poor excuse for a jobs plan," said Terry Forsyth, president of the alliance.
Brownback and his supporters were planning a news conference of their own on Wednesday, touting support for tax cuts. Both events were held ahead of the first of three planned days of hearings over the proposal by the House Taxation Committee.
Forsyth outlined a series of bills in the House and Senate that attempt to make changes to prevailing wage laws, the state pension plan and a plan carried over from 2011 that would prohibit collecting money from paychecks for contributions to political action committees.
"We demand that this governor start putting his weight behind legislation that will put Kansans back to work," he said.
Brownback's plan would cuts rates, starting for 2013, so married couples would face a top rate of 4.9 percent instead of the current 6.45 percent. The plan would exempt 191,000 operators of partnerships, sole proprietorships and other small firms from paying any taxes on their business earnings. The standard deduction for heads of households would double to $9,000.
To offset potential revenue losses, Brownback proposed eliminating numerous credits and deductions, including ones for charitable contributions and interest payments on home mortgages. He'd also keep the sales tax at 6.3 percent, rather than dropping it to 5.7 percent in July 2013, as scheduled by law. He'd eliminate the state earned income tax credit for poor workers and their families.
The governor said that the $90 million in the ETIC savings would be reinvested in state social service programs, including Medicaid, to provide what Republicans say is a safety net for the poor.
Democrats said eliminating the program sends the wrong message to Kansas families.
"It is as clear as the blue sky you are asking people on the lower end of the income scale to pay more for a tax cut that is going to go to business and wealthy individuals," said House Minority Leader Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat. "The facts are indisputable, and I just don't think that is going to sell in this building or anywhere across the state."