Archive for Monday, March 19, 2012

Capitol Briefing: Removal of food sales tax debated

March 19, 2012


Removal of food sales tax debated

When the House last week approved its plan to cut income taxes, it added a proposal to remove the sales tax on food.

But few legislators give the sales tax proposal much chance of surviving because it would mean a $350 million hit to the state’s general fund.

Even so, the issue comes up every now and then as Kansas is one of only eight states that levies its full sales tax on groceries.

Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said the last time he spoke with former Gov. Bill Graves, a Republican who signed into law several tax cuts in the 1990s, Graves told him that if he could do it over again, he would have pushed for removing the sales tax on food.

Quote of the week

“I think it’s safe to say that other states don’t want to be in the position Kansas is in now. Everybody wants support and funding.”

— Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, commenting on the lack of state funding in Kansas for the arts because of a veto by Gov. Sam Brownback.

Cash balance plan in play

Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said there seems to be increased support in the Legislature for a so-called cash balance plan to address financial problems with the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System.

The plan would create a new retirement plan for new teachers and other government employees hired in 2014 or later.

Currently, KPERS benefits are based on a worker’s salary and years of service. The proposed plan would be based on the employee’s contributions and a guaranteed 5 percent interest on the contributions annually.

Representatives of employee groups say the proposal still shortchanges workers.

Brownback’s school finance plan left back

Without much fanfare, the Senate Education Committee has voted to send Gov. Sam Brownback’s school finance plan to an interim committee to be studied after the session is over.

During several days of hearings, Brownback’s proposal was panned by numerous school districts and education groups.

March Madness sweeps Statehouse

Come tournament time, some legislators go all out to show support for their favorite teams, decorating their desks with team paraphernalia and wearing team colors.

One of the biggest fans is House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson.

During a meeting of the House Redistricting Committee, of which he is chairman, O’Neal announced that Kansas State had lost to Southern Mississippi. But he apparently got an incorrect text, and someone in the audience said the game was still going. K-State eventually won that game.

Then, during debate Friday, O’Neal interrupted debate to announce that Missouri had been defeated by Norfolk State.

What’s next:

Most business this week will be on the floors of the House and Senate.

• 9 a.m. today — Staff briefing on House Substitute for Senate 259, enacting the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System act of 2014, before House Pensions and Benefits Committee, Room 142-South, Capitol.

• Noon today — Senate Reapportionment Committee discussion and possible action on redistricting of Senate and House districts.

• 1 p.m. today — Review of cash balance plan, before Kansas Public Employees Retirement System Select Committee, Room 548-South, Capitol.

• 8 a.m. Tuesday — Hearing on Senate Bill 314, eliminating the fishing and hunting license exemption for persons 65 or older, before House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, Room 783 Docking Building.


Paul R Getto 2 years ago

Typical house tax: New Hampshire ($4,618) Kansas ($1,957)

The best mix is probably 1/3 each of income property and sales tax. This gives a more stable budget.


booyalab 2 years, 1 month ago

If the state of Kansas was a reality tv show, it would be hoarders. I know a lady who would have been a contender for that show. Her disgusting problem was the fault of everyone but her, but when people offered to help she wouldn't let them. Then she was evicted, and was forced to only take the stuff she could carry. Problem solved.

If the government has to be disbanded due to our inability to balance the budget, we will all be better off. You all will be surprised how little we needed it.


Gandalf 2 years, 1 month ago

I wonder how the teapubs will try to spin it into the democrats fault?


Michael LoBurgio 2 years, 1 month ago

Last year alone, Gov. Brownback asked for a $104 million cut to public schools - the largest cut to public schools - the largest cut to public education in Kansas history.

In total, public education has been cut nearly $270 million since fiscal year 2009


Michael LoBurgio 2 years, 1 month ago

House Republican 2013 fiscal year budget

Here are some funding areas that were recommended for cuts in the House 2013 budget:

· Community Health Centers were cut $1.8 million for screenings for non-Medicaid patients. Right now, even if you are not Medicaid eligible, you can go to a local community mental health center and talk to someone for an initial screening. Now those people will be turned away.

· Family Centered Systems of Care was eliminated. This provides mental health services for families with children with serious emotional disturbances.

· Family Preservation Reduction was cut by $654,000. This program helps families stay together and cuts about 600 families from the program.

· Children’s Initiatives Funds were cut about $15 million. This includes a number of early childhood education programs.

· $157,000 was cut from Addiction and Prevention Services grants, cutting services to about 100 Kansans.

· Cut foster care contract rates by $2.3 million and foster care reimbursement rates by $3.4 million.

· Cut child support enforcement contracts by $1.4 million.

· Cut funding by $2.1 million for children over the age of 13 in SRS custody. This will mean more kids over the age of 13 who were in foster care due to out-of-control behavior, truancy, overwhelmed parents, etc., will not be covered. They will have to stay at home.

· Cut support for Centers for Independent Living by 18%. This supports Kansans with developmental disabilities.

· Reduce foster parent training by 13 percent or $111,000.

· State employees get no raises and their longevity pay (for employees with 10 years or more service) is reduced.

· The budget had a provision that would not allow new patients into KNI. Rep Annie Kuether made an amendment to keep the doors open for new patients and it passed.

· In asking for your priorities in spending, you told me that your number one priority was to put some money back into K12 education.

The House 2013 budget puts no new money per child into Kansas public schools. Not providing some kind of cost of living increase for schools puts pressure on local school boards to raise property taxes to cover the cost of inflation and improving schools.

Public schools have endured more than their fair share of budget cuts over the last few years.

Last year alone, Gov. Brownback asked for a $104 million cut to


Machiavelli_mania 2 years, 1 month ago

Where is the Tea Party when you really need them? All burned out on the poublic show but active little on the real topics they are supposed to be showing up for.

Call the GOP on their bluff. If they are anti-tax, this will pass.

If they are not, there is no use using this topic again to get elected.

Lack of authenticity for the current GOP is a real problem for them.


James MacMurray 2 years, 1 month ago

You need to add property taxes to round out your comparison. I'm guessing that is where you will find a meaningful difference.


parrothead8 2 years, 1 month ago

It seems silly to routinely refer to yourself as "the greatest country on earth," and then to tax your citizens on the very things they need to live. It makes sense to tax us on luxury items, but food?


TimW 2 years, 1 month ago

You know, I'm curious, just where does the state's tax revenue go?

When I announced I was moving to Kansas about five years ago I was sarcastically congratulated by one of my co-workers for moving to a state where "you'll actually be able to keep your money". I guess he figured a red state = no/low taxes. I spent the last 30 years hearing stories about how "Taxachusetts" was losing residents to New Hampshire because our tax burden was so high. I guess I never realized how good I had it.

We had no, ZERO, tax on groceries or clothing (ie, the essentials). Flat 5% state sales tax with no such thing as county or local sales tax. A 5.3% rate on income tax, compared to my 6.45% rate in Kansas. Rent, student loan, and many other tax deductions that don't exist in Kansas....and a state that, while not in the best financial shape, is not nearly in the dire straits that Kansas seems to be in.

My point here, is that I moved from a state with what was perceived as a very high tax burden to Kansas where the tax burden (at least for someone in my bracket) is actually much worse, yet when I compare the services offered by each state Kansas has MUCH less (I mean we had "free" trash, water, and sewer...a state-wide healthcare system that is very popular and successful despite what some would try and tell services that actually has an office near you...state parks that don't charge for use...etc).

So what are they doing with the money? I realize that there are HUGE differences between the states, but it seems that I pay a lot more here and the state offers a lot less.


Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 1 month ago

This information was current as of 2009. Clipped from:

Forty-five states and the District of Columbia levy general sales taxes. Most of those states have eliminated, reduced, or offset the tax as applied to food for home consumption. The relief strategies include full or partial exemptions from the sales tax for food purchased for home consumption and credits or rebates to offset the food tax. Of the states with sales taxes:

Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia exempt most food purchased for consumption at home from the state sales tax. South Carolina is the state that most recently eliminated its sales tax on food (effective November 1, 2007).

Seven states tax groceries at lower rates than other goods; they are Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Note: We are in this group of 5: Five states — Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota— tax groceries fully but offer credits or rebates offsetting some of the taxes paid on food by some portions of the population. These credits or rebates usually are set at a flat amount per family member. The amounts and eligibility rules vary, but may be too narrow and/or insufficient to give eligible households full relief from sales taxes paid on food purchases.

Two states continue to apply their sales tax fully to food purchased for home consumption without providing any offsetting relief for low- and moderate-income families. They are Alabama and Mississippi.

Local governments, which in many states levy their own sales taxes, usually exempt food if food is fully exempt at the state level. Major exceptions include localities in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Grocery food purchases in those states are fully or partially exempt at the state level, but typically taxed at the local level.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 1 month ago

The removal of sales tax on food will not happen, because that would have to come at the expense of income tax cuts for the wealthy.


royhallz 2 years, 1 month ago

We still need to feed our family healthy, well-balanced meals while keeping to a set budget. Change is the hardest thing and trying to do everything at once will have most people quitting before they even begin. You can get samples from sites like "Get Official Samples" where you can find all samples


Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 1 month ago

It seems ridiculous to me to lower income taxes but leave the sales tax on food to be prepared at home. At a restaurant it is different, because eating out is a luxury.

That seems very unfair to many people that are just barely able to pay their bills. With what's left after their bills are paid, they go to a grocery store in Lawrence and there it is, a tax of 8.85%.

It is higher in some locations, but I believe that there are no grocery stores, only restaurants, in the special tax districts.

Isn't it possible to keep the Kansas state revenue about the same by slightly raising or at least not lowering income taxes on higher income individuals and removing the taxes on food, which is a very basic item that everyone needs?


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