Archive for Saturday, January 12, 2013

Dealing with state tax cuts driving the 2013 legislative agenda

January 12, 2013


Statehouse events this week


A "People's State of the State" rally will be held at noon on the east steps of the Statehouse. The rally is being coordinated by MoveOn of Johnson County.

Rally organizers said those speaking at the event will be Kathy Cook, Kansas Families for Education; Lisa Ochs, American Federation for Teachers-Kansas; Karen Godfrey, Kansas National Education Association; Micheline Burger, KC Mainstream Coalition; Rev. Ben Scott, Kansas NAACP; Tom Witt, Kansas Equality Coalition; Elise Higgins, Kansas National Organization for Women; Sarah Gillooly, Kansas Planned Parenthood; Jennifer Smith, Move to Amend; and Louis Goseland, Sunflower Community Action/KanVote.

The House and Senate convene at 2 p.m.


Gov. Sam Brownback will outline his initiatives when he delivers his 2013 State of the State address at 6:30 p.m. Democrats will offer response after the speech.


Brownback's proposed budget will be presented by Budget Director Steve Anderson at 9 a.m. to the House Appropriations Committee, and 10:30 a.m. to the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

— The state of Kansas faces its own fiscal cliff as the Legislature starts the 2013 session on Monday.

Because of tax cuts pushed through last year by Gov. Sam Brownback and conservative legislators, state revenues are shrinking. And the appetite among the growing conservative majority in the Legislature for more budget cuts is growing.

Those legislators aren't simply ready to cut state agency budgets; there are numerous proposals that would have the effect of reducing taxes or limiting spending on the local level.

City, county and school officials often complain about how the actions in the Statehouse negatively affect their ability to deliver services, just as state legislators complain about Washington.

But this year, that complaining has morphed into a outspoken concerns about Topeka among some local leaders.

"To say that local governments are worried this year is to put it lightly," Douglas County Commissioner Nancy Thellman said.

As if this wasn't enough, on Friday a three-judge panel ruled that the Legislature violated the Kansas Constitution by cutting public school funding over the past several years. It ordered a $440 million increase in funding. The state has said it will appeal the decision to the Kansas Supreme Court

While the court is unlikely to rule until after the legislative session, the decision by the three-judge panel will likely dominate public policy debate on school funding and attempts by conservatives to rein in the courts.

The budget equation

When legislators gavel in Monday, they will start working on the budget for fiscal year 2014, which starts July 1.

The effects of reducing state income tax rates and eliminating state income taxes for nearly 200,000 business owners will be part of the equation. The total amount of revenue the state is expected to collect in the fiscal year is approximately $5.5 billion. Current spending levels are at $6.2 billion.

That leaves a $700 million difference — nearly 12 percent of current spending — that has to be bridged through either budget cuts, tax increases or a combination of the two.

"No matter what solutions lawmakers choose, the fiscal year 2014 budget presents many challenges that could have a direct effect on health programs and other key services," said Duane Goosen, an analyst with the Kansas Health Institute, who served as the state's budget director under Republican Gov. Bill Graves and Democratic governors Kathleen Sebelius and Mark Parkinson.

The one-cent solution

One partial solution that Brownback has indicated support for in the past is keeping in place the 6.3 percent state sales tax.

When the state was reeling from the "Great Recession," a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats in 2010 approved a one-cent increase in the sales tax — raising it from 5.3 percent to the current 6.3 percent — for three years to avoid further cuts to schools, social services and public safety. The sales tax is scheduled to ratchet down to 5.7 cents per dollar on July 1, with a portion of the levy going to help fund the state's transportation program.

Conservative Republicans and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce hammered those who supported the tax increase when it passed, but now the Chamber of Commerce has pivoted, leading the charge to make the temporary increase permanent. The chamber wants more budget cuts and then the higher sales tax revenue can be used to cut income tax rates further.

The decision makers

Working on these financial problems is an inexperienced House and new ruling group in the Senate.

Partially due to court-ordered redistricting, there will be 50 rookies in the 125-member Kansas House. The 40-member Senate has 16 new members, although 14 have served in the House.

"When the court redrew maps it really caused a big change in the overall makeup of the Legislature. This is the product of it," Brownback said in an interview.

In the 2012 legislative session, a political war within the Republican Party sent the redistricting process to federal court. A three-judge panel hit the reset button and drew congressional, legislative and State Board of Education district lines.

That resulted in a frantic rush for candidates and a huge freshman class.

Now there are House members who are starting only their second terms and finding themselves chairing committees. The Senate also is under new leadership that is tightly aligned with Brownback.

But to all the new members, most of whom are solidly conservative, Brownback had some advice: "I always believe you shouldn't overplay your hand. I've been saying that for years. You do what is sensible and have a strategy for doing it and try to move that on forward. That's going to continue to be my message."


Mike1949 5 years, 4 months ago

That's going to continue to be my message.

Ya, right, the only message is the decimation of Kansas! We are becoming the joke of all the states in the US, replacing the deep south being one of the worst places to live! With laws like Arizona, purgatory here we come!

Paul R Getto 5 years, 4 months ago

People get ready...there's a train wreck comin.'

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years, 4 months ago

And Brownback is the Engineer of the Run Away Train we call Kansas Politics. He is bypassing all the safetys and he does not know where the BRAKE is let alone keeping his hand on it for safety reasons. First slight curve in the track, and THIS Train is Derailed.

Joe Hyde 5 years, 4 months ago

Well, yes. But keep in mind: The mass confusion that will characterize this amateur legislature would not represent a threat to Kansas governance if Gov. Brownback and other Koch-supported conservatives had not spent all their time euthanizing every moderate Republican in sight.

jafs 5 years, 4 months ago

They couldn't have done that without the voters.

anothernerdygirl 5 years, 4 months ago

True jafs. Many voters believe what Brownback says and many voters drank the kool aide.

tomatogrower 5 years, 4 months ago

And same voters will be the first to start whining when the highways start to crumble, and they have to figure out how to talk a private school into coming to western Kansas, because they shut down all the schools. Or whining because they have to pay higher property taxes. Brownback will probably try and blame it on Obama.

Water 5 years, 4 months ago

It seems odd to me that so many articles describe the annual U.S. Federal Government budget and annual U.S. State's budgets. The total debt value should be included with all of these articles. Striving for zero deficits for the year won't get us out of the hole.

National Debt is about $16,400,000,000,000 Kansas Debt is about 29,500,000,000 Lawrence Debt.? My personal debt.?

I'd be in well into the black if my share of the National debt and Kansas State debt weren't about $155,000!

mcallaigh 5 years, 4 months ago

Where'd you get this KS debt number. Pretty sure KS doesn't have any debt as it is illegal, as it is in most states one way or another. Same goes for Lawrence and other municipalities.

The value of debt decreases by half every 25 years because of inflation. So balancing the budget alone does substantially decrease debt. (In other words GDP doubles every 25 years on average.)

headdoctor 5 years, 4 months ago

Last time I looked Kansas was on the high side of a 25 billion dollar debt. Kansas law may call for a balanced budget as many States do. The way the budget and finances are handled with taxation we rarely have a balanced budget.

The State Government meets the requirements by approving a balanced budget. The debt happens when there is a shortfall in projected tax collections or if they under fund something and then have to owe or borrow money.

mcallaigh 5 years, 4 months ago

I was always under the impression that states could not run debts, simply put... so you're claiming KS is on the high side of 25B in debt. Interesting, please elaborate...

Water 5 years, 4 months ago

p> is a source I use to see all State debts. You know when a State or municipality offers a bond to raise money for bridges, highways, prisons, education, etc. The investor is buying that State's debt., the interest on the bond is paid with tax dollars. Bonds cover what taxes don't, mainly because a large lump sum is needed when one buys a house. If you read the Kansas Constitution, Article 11 there are other ways mentioned that Kansas can go into debt legally.

Scott Bonnet 5 years, 4 months ago

No. Not true. You pulled that number out of someone's butt. Koch brothers?

Water 5 years, 4 months ago

So Mr. Suttle, did you visit the websites the good Dr. posted? Try Googling any State's name with the word, debt, and see what you find.

weeslicket 5 years, 4 months ago

Brownback had some advice: "I always believe you shouldn't overplay your hand. I've been saying that for years. You do what is sensible and have a strategy for doing it and try to move that on forward. That's going to continue to be my message."

whaaa?? governor brownback has never said this before. and his choices while in office have accomplished the opposite.

headdoctor 5 years, 4 months ago

Not sure why they keep bringing up the school funding in articles. The law makers thumbed their nose at the courts before and will do it again. Brownback already has played his hand. He likes the sales tax where it is and he already warned of property tax increase for the school funding.

The Legislators have their agenda and it has caused me to come up with my own agenda against the effects of the no income tax for businesses, etc. The heart of the plan is to do as much business as feasible with companies that don't have a presence in Kansas.

mcallaigh 5 years, 4 months ago

ya we need to go back to the cowboy days when we drank yellow water, had muddy unpaved streets, rampant diseases, didn't need basic education... we're so spoiled by these lavish government luxuries.

Alyosha 5 years, 4 months ago

In the context of this story, Laus, there is no difference between citizens and what you call "government people."

In the United States, we are to be self-governed. You know, "of the people, by the people, and for the people."

So where exactly in the political philosophy and history of the United States do you find the conception of "government people"? I suggest you'll not be able to point to anything, because no such conception in the American political tradition exists.

It's a self-evident truth that governments are instituted to secure our inalienable rights.

verity 5 years, 4 months ago

Not overplayed his hand? ? ? So what other evil plans does he have in store for us?

They are NOT conservatives! Please stop calling them that.

Call them what they are.

Radical. Reactionary. Extreme. Destructionists. Heartless. Tyrants. And several more things that would get me disappeareded.

Dare I call it treason? They certainly seem hellbent on destroying democracy and a balance in our government.

But NOT conservatives. Not even close.

headdoctor 5 years, 4 months ago

There is a much shorter name for them Verity. They are Neoliberals. In many cases a corrupt version.

Scott Bonnet 5 years, 4 months ago

Head Leo, Rush and Fox lie to you. Step away from the Koolaid. You are terrible people.

headdoctor 5 years, 4 months ago

You are either really bad at trolling or you are incapable of understanding my posts. I don't waste my time with Rush, Fox News, etc.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 4 months ago

The courts can't originate the cases that come before them. All they can do is rule on the merits of the cases that are filed. That's what they did in this one.

If the legislature wants to try to pass a constitutional amendment that will allow them to effectively dismantle the public school systems across the state, that's within their power. But until they successfully do that, they're obligated to follow their constitutional mandate.

But it will be interesting to see if the governor and legislature defy the courts, and likely get hit with contempt of court rulings. Will law enforcement do their jobs and arrest them? What would this full-blown constitutional crisis look like?

JackMcKee 5 years, 4 months ago

I've lived in Kansas for 39 years. My family has lived here for 4 generations. This is the first time I've truly been ashamed to be a Kansas resident and had a strong desire to move elsewhere. Kansas used to be such a nice place to live.

chootspa 5 years, 4 months ago

My desire to move hit last summer when the budget deal was signed into place. I've been busy getting things into place to get out of here.

George_Braziller 5 years, 4 months ago

I've lived here for 51 years and am a 5th generation Kansan. I too am ashamed of the current state of the State because of the completely incompetent administration. After Brownie finishes destroying the economy as Governor he'll retire to another state so he can distance himself from the damage.

Scott Bonnet 5 years, 4 months ago

Brownback and the far right will tax the poor and middle-class to fund goodies for their real constituents.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 4 months ago

You are correct Rick. Lets discuss the Tax Holiday that Obama just let expire and now the working stiffs are getting stiffed for an additional 2% in payroll taxes.

People should open their eyes. There is only so much money. When you take from my family and give it to some moocher in the 47% we are aproaching a point where there will not be anything for anyone. You that are 40 years old or less might consider getting on the reduction of entitlements or you are really are going to get the ole....

voevoda 5 years, 4 months ago

Nearly all of the 47%, cant_have_it, are disabled people and elderly retirees or full-time working poor. I don't begrudge them benefits, cant_have_it, and only selfish people would.

So who. exactly, among the 47%, are the "moochers"? Yes, there are a few able-bodied people who are playing the system. With better auditing (that is, more government employees, not fewer), we could get them off the rolls. And there are a few megarich among the 47%--people who have figured out how to reduce their Federal income tax to 0% through loopholes not available to ordinary wage-earners. They are the worst, because they are motivated purely by greed.

I am much disturbed by your attempt to start a generational war, cant_have_it. Don't you subscribe to the traditional value of respecting your elders?

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 4 months ago

All loopholes are available to everyone. You just have to not be to cheap to pay an accountant to decrease your tax burdon, that is of course, if you have one and are not a moocher too?

Alyosha 5 years, 4 months ago

Kindly explain how the President "let" the so-called tax holiday expire.

Serious question, given your comment: do you understand how how laws are made?

There's no sense in responding to the inanity of the 47% in your post, so we'll let that slide.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 4 months ago

It is evident that you do not receive a paycheck so you would not see the increased taxes on the working class.

All the president had to do is issue one of his executive orders to maintain the "Tax holiday" enjoyed by the working (Middle) class. He chose instead, to make taxing the rich such a big thing that he hoped that letting the tax holiday expire would not be noticed or complained about by the liberal press.

Have you ever seen someone on welfare take a pay cut? I haven't and more than once have seen a COLA adjustment at the expense of those of us who actually pay taxes.

William Weissbeck 5 years, 4 months ago

I wouldn't feel so bad about this if I thought the legislature was composed of thrift ants making plans for the better of the community. Rather, the legislature is a pack of vultures - they have no end goal other than to leave a carcass behind. A friend of mine moved to NC where they adopted the same tax stunt. Because as a doctor he is considered an independent contractor to his hospital ER, the state of NC treats his earnings as that of a small business. Therefore, he gets to write of the first $50,000 on his income. Bottom line - if you cut some group's taxes, then some other group is going to have to pay the difference, either in more taxes or fewer services.

gccs14r 5 years, 4 months ago

If ol' Sam were really interested in the betterment of Kansas for all Kansans, he would have added a new higher income tax bracket, eliminated the sales tax on food, and restored education funding.

jafs 5 years, 4 months ago

Those who like to complain about the temporary payroll tax cut expiring haven't thought it through very well, since they also generally complain about SS being unsustainable.

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