Topeka Kansas Democratic Party Chairwoman Joan Wagnon, who also served as the state's chief tax official for eight years, said on Tuesday that the proposed tax overhaul by Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, would hurt working families and benefit the wealthy.
"The governor has said he's not picking winners and losers, but he is. He's choosing banks and wealthy corporations over people," Wagnon said. "This isn't even remotely fair, and it drains funding from education," she said.
Brownback has proposed decreasing state income tax rates, eliminating the state income tax for thousands of businesses, doing away with numerous tax credits and deductions, and keeping the state sales tax at 6.3 cents per dollar, when under current law it is supposed to drop to 5.7 cents per dollar in 2013.
Brownback has said his proposal will lure businesses to Kansas and spur economic development. He said his intent is to eventually phase out the state income tax.
"I firmly believe these reforms will set the stage for strong economic growth in Kansas – and will put more money into the pockets of Kansas families and businesses. Growth that will allow us to further reduce tax rates and increase our competitiveness. Growth that will see people move to Kansas instead of leaving our state," Brownback said in his State of the State speech last week.
But Democrats have hammered the plan, saying it will hurt low-income and middle-income Kansans.
Under Brownback's plan, individual Kansans will lose $180 million in tax credits, while banks and wealthy corporations would retain nearly all of their credits, said Wagnon, who served as secretary of the Kansas Department of Revenue from 2003 until 2011.
Brownback's plan would get rid of the home mortgage interest deduction, the charitable contribution deduction, child care and dependent care deductions, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the tax credit for families who adopt children, and the sales tax on food rebate program.
Removing the rebate on sales taxes paid on food will take money from more than 365,000 Kansans, while ending the state portion of the EITC would hurt more than 227,000 working Kansans, Wagnon said.