Archive for Monday, January 21, 2013

Brownback budget has Democrats, moderate Republicans facing dilemma

January 21, 2013


On the street

Facing a $700 million deficit, should the state cut income taxes next year?

No. I think taxes are where a lot of the money comes from. If we cut taxes, we’ll have more of a mess.

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Do you think the state of Kansas should cut income taxes this year?

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— Gov. Sam Brownback, a conservative Republican, may have Democrats and moderate Republicans between a rock and a hard place.

Here is the situation.

The income tax cuts Brownback signed into law last year are draining the state treasury. Kansas will collect $5.5 billion in the fiscal year that starts July 1, which is approximately $700 million less than current spending.

But Brownback has doubled down this year, calling for more tax cuts with the eventual phase-out of the state income tax.

In order to do this and balance the budget, Brownback has proposed three major actions: making permanent what was supposed to be a temporary sales tax increase, eliminating the home mortgage interest deduction and transferring $245 million from the state highway fund to public schools.

"This budget is being held together by duct tape and dental floss," said House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence.

"It's all premised on keeping this irresponsible income tax (cut) in place," said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka.

"If the governor is not able to get some of the things that he wants here, I think he faces some real problems with being able to balance the budget," Davis said.

But conservatives, who now make up majorities in the House and Senate, have been grumbling that they want to cut the budget.

If moderate Republicans and Democrats don't try to do the heavy lifting for Brownback, they may see school funding and other areas of government that they support get whacked.

"I'm concerned about a lot of things that Democrats care about, but understand that there is one reason that we're in this situation and that is this massive tax plan that the state simply can't afford that has put us in a terrible fiscal situation," Davis said.

The tax cuts Brownback approved last year reduced state income tax rates and eliminated income taxes for 191,000 business owners.

In 2010, before Brownback was governor, the Legislature approved a one-cent increase in the state sales tax to avoid further cuts to services during the Great Recession.

Six-tenths of a cent of the increase is scheduled to go away July 1, but Brownback wants to keep it in place in order to lower the highest income tax bracket from 4.9 percent to 3.5 percent and drop the lowest rate from 3 percent to 1.9 percent.

Hensley said if Brownback's budget-balancing proposals don't pass, "we'll have to see what the consequences are. I'm not willing to talk about hypotheticals."

But, he said, he will not vote to extend the sales tax, noting that when the increase was approved, legislators promised that it would fall back in 2013. "I'm not going back on my word," Hensley said.


John Sickels 5 years, 4 months ago

Can't really say that I see the dilemma for Dems and moderate Repubs. The conservatives control everything.

Frankly at this point I think the citizens of Douglas County and Lawrence need to be figuring out how to preserve our services and quality of life as much as possible. The rest of the state voted to destroy itself and they deserve what they get.

DrQuack 5 years, 4 months ago

I agree; however, I will not support any thing that causes my taxes to go up. I'm retired and on a fixed income. I cannot afford to give more of my money to any government function.

Centerville 5 years, 4 months ago

Income taxes don't 'drain the treasury'. The money has never belonged to the state in the first place. Moderate Republicans need some serious soul searching and question their slack-jawed love of taxes.

JayhawkFan1985 5 years, 4 months ago

Like you, I am not addicted to taxes. But, I am addicted to having adequate police and fire protection, schools, highways, and the like. The problem with Brownback and his ilk, including you, is they are content to burn our state to the ground in the service of false ideology and then try to wrap it up in a Christian package just to get some votes. The problem with most kansans is they are gullible. Kansans are smart though...they'll realize their mistake after the state is in ashes. Brownback will blame Obama...

Dave Trabert 5 years, 4 months ago

Implementing tax reform does not require the trade-off of service cuts. That may how government has responded in the past but it's just a bad choice. Instead, government should be made to operate much more efficiently...providing the same or better service at a better price. Government should also stop giving away taxpayer money in the name of economic development.

State spending needs to be reduced by $186 per-resident to implement the reforms passed last year, which would still make Kansas the high-spender in the region. State government just needs to operate about 8.5% more efficiently and there will be healthy ending balances and balanced budgets.

The NY Times recently reported that Kansas is the 11th most generous state in the nation in terms of giving away taxpayer money, at $355 per-resident.

Completely eliminating income tax would be very good for Kansas but until government operates as efficiently as possible and stops giving away taxpayer money in the form of crony capitalism, every tax rate will be too high. No sales tax increase now or elimination of the mortgage deduction. Better service, better price.

Catalano 5 years, 4 months ago

So I take it you and the Kochs would not favor special state legislation to exempt the new Rock Chalk Park from paying taxes?

Next to the last paragraph.

Dave Trabert 5 years, 4 months ago

Kansas Policy Institute does not favor exempting privately-owned businesses or facilities from paying property tax. We also do not favor giving away taxpayer money in the name of economic development, which is another form of crony capitalism.

chootspa 5 years, 4 months ago

But you did favor giving away the Koch's income tax liability for the sake of mythical economic development.

Kathy Theis-Getto 5 years, 4 months ago

...and you favor taking from the education of our children, our future leaders of this state and nation to give to your cronys. Pitiful. How do you sleep at night?

Janella Williams 5 years, 4 months ago

I think she meant to "reply" to Dave "Koch-toady" Trabert's comment.

Kathy Theis-Getto 5 years, 4 months ago

Yup. The comment was for the hack policy dude.

JayhawkFan1985 5 years, 4 months ago

But the KPI does favor exempting privately owned businesses from income taxes??? Dave, you're arguments just plain lack traction...

JayhawkFan1985 5 years, 4 months ago

Dave, the top goals of government should be to deliver services to citizens in an effective and equitable manner. Efficiency is laudable, but you use it as a call just to cut taxes regardless of the consequences. You don't worry if schools have to be closed, teachers have to be laid off, poor children won't be covered by Medicaid, highways crumble, etc. you are nothing but a shill for the Koch brothers anti-tax machine because we all know billions wont get two guys with billions as far as it used to. Wheels that spin can be highly efficient, but if the goal is to move a vehicle forward, you need traction. Your line of reasoning lacks traction.

JayhawkFan1985 5 years, 4 months ago

I'd like to where you get the 8.5% efficiency improvement from. State employees haven't had raises in 6 years. The legislature has systematically failed to adequately fund KPERS, and public education. KDOT has saved the general fund every year for years due to favorable interest rates and lower than anticipated bids, etc. your true goal as an antigovernment nut is to "starve the beast." I do agree with you that we should end corporate subsidies because economic development programs are a negative sum game. The problem with killing off economic development programs is like ending nuclear proliferation, if Missouri offers incentives, Kansas will try to one up them. Having said that, the dept. of commerce budget is a drop in the state budget. The real culprit is the tax code earmarks for companies like Boeing that pull up stakes and leave anyway. We need to invest in education and transportation....that's real economic development, but your fantasy about government being the problem won't allow for that.

Mike1949 5 years, 4 months ago

You must live in a reality that all far right Christian (and I say that loosely as I know a lot of Christians that are more angry than I am at Brownback) that is in another solar system. Kansas is going to crash and burn, just like some of those southern states that I won't dignify to mention. The far Christian right and brownback is destroying our state. If keeping the higher sales tax isn't a tax increase, I don't know what a tax increase is!

chootspa 5 years, 4 months ago

Supporting income tax cuts with sales taxes and property taxes is about as regressive as you can get, especially since we still tax food in this state.

gmanobmo 5 years, 4 months ago

Dave - Sounds great! Give us some specific examples of what departments can give better service for a better price.

How much do they spend now?
How much money could they cut? What do they cut? How does the service get better after the cuts are made? In what ways?

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 4 months ago

Oh lookie here. It's the Koch's PR person.

Bob Forer 5 years, 4 months ago

The only people who will benefit from making the sales tax increase permanent and lowering the top income bracket will be the wealthy,. as most of the money they save in income tax will probably not be spent on items subject to sales tax. The working poor and working class will be hurt, as much of their disposable income is spent on essential living items such as food as clothing.

So folks making $200,000.00 plus per year will save $3,000.00 plus per year in income taxes. Not that they really need that extra money, but it will be on the backs of folks who labor and toil for a living. So much for Christian philosophy.

Brownback and his CINO (Christian in name only) cronies, when you come right down to it, are greedy, despicable people. i

appleaday 5 years, 4 months ago

You mean "big government" like bank bailouts and oil subsidies?

tomatogrower 5 years, 4 months ago

"Seek responsibility, and take responsibility for your actions" Yeah, you married that wife beater, stay with him, so Brownstripe doesn't have to see you. You got that cancer, just die, so someone can have your job. We can adopt your kids out after your spouse can't support them anymore. We'll send them to a farm or a sweat shop to work, like they did in the old days. I'm just a little sick of compassionate conservatives. Me, me, me. Pay your workers little money, produce a third class product and as long as your raking in the cash, throw a few bones to the poor.

John Sickels 5 years, 4 months ago

I really hope Dave Trabert never has a disabled person in his family or becomes disabled himself in Brownback's Kansas. Nursing home care will burn through his Koch-fueled bank account pretty quickly.

John Sickels 5 years, 4 months ago

How do you know I don't?

My son is disabled. He won't have much of a life once me and my wife are gone, if people like you and Sam Brownback get their way.

speedy47 5 years, 4 months ago

I'm concerned about the disabled and i HAVE donated my time and money to help them. Not for any recognition or reward, just for the good feeling it leaves inside you. You ever had that feeling Gotland?

chootspa 5 years, 4 months ago

I've done both. Charity is laudable. Doesn't mean I don't also advocate for good public policy, too.

chootspa 5 years, 4 months ago

Or gets unemployed again if he manages KPI like he managed his TV stations. He might have to take a drug test to get benefits.

Bob Forer 5 years, 4 months ago

When built in 1981, the Holidome was touted as a state-of-the art facility. Its glory years were not long, which lead to its changing hands several times before the current owners invested millions of dollars four short years ago. If I recall, the influx of capital did not include any city giveaways.

For those folks who talk about Lawrence being unfriendly to business, it would be a travesty and patently unfair to subsidize a second convention center that would compete with the Holidome.

Let Compton and his cronies play by the same rules as outside developers.

question4u 5 years, 4 months ago

Nothing is easier than talking about "efficiency" and "better service." Those words are like "more enjoyable." For whom? To what degree? How will it be measured? What is given up in exchange for efficiency? What are the objective criteria that will yield quantifiable results on which everyone will agree?

It may be a lot more efficient to cut across a lawn instead of walking on a sidewalk, and the end result is the same: you get where you're going. But in one case the grass is healthy and in the other it's dead. If you couldn't care less about grass then the easiest route is the best. If you're capable of looking at the larger picture, then the answer isn't so simple. Now replace the grass with people. It takes a particularly callous kind of person to talk about efficiency while ignoring that factor.

Everyone would like to have something for nothing, but claims that efficiency will get you that are just blather unless they are supported by hard facts that take into account every angle and every element that will be affected. Until you define slippery terms like "efficiency" and "better service" in concrete and universally recognized terms you're just selling snake oil. There's too much of that on the market in Kansas already.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 4 months ago

"Gov. Sam Brownback, a conservative Republican"

Maybe not even a republican. Definitely conservative BUT neither fiscal conservative nor fiscally responsible.

Now if he drains the treasury he can put Kansas up for sale to the like of Koch,the Waltons and perhaps Karl Rove. Then our taxes would definitely need to increase to cover the cost of a rather reckless spending high profit group. And all in Kansas would be forced to think like Kochs,Waltons and the Rove team.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 4 months ago

"Government should also stop giving away taxpayer money in the name of economic development." so says Dave Trabert Hmmmmmmmmm

How about that $9 million to Marrs Candy?

"Worker's taxes siphoned off by their bosses (AND Sam Brownback) Thursday, April 26, 2012 | Posted by Jim Hightower

Where is the $47 million tax dollars that belong to Kansas taxpayers?

My congratulations to workers in 16 states – from Maine to Georgia, New Jersey to Colorado! Many of you will be thrilled to know that the income taxes deducted from your paychecks each month are going to a very worthy cause: your corporate boss.

Good Jobs First, a non-profit, non-partisan research center, has analyzed state programs meant to create jobs, but instead have created some $700 million a year in corporate welfare. This scam starts with the normal practice of corporations withholding from each employee's monthly check the state income taxes their workers owe.

But rather than remitting this money to pay for state services, these 16 states simply allow the corporations to keep the tax payments for themselves! Adding to the funkiness of taxation-by-corporation, the bosses don't even have to tell workers that the company is siphoning off their state taxes for its own fun and profit.

These heists are rationalized in the name of "job creation," but that's a hoax, too. They're really just bribes the states pay to get corporations to move existing jobs from one state to another, or they're hostage payments to corporations that demand the public's money – or else they'll move their jobs out of state.

Last year, Kansas used workers' withholding taxes to bribe AMC Entertainment with a $47 million payment to move its headquarters from downtown Kansas City, Missouri, to a KC suburb on the Kansas side, just 10 miles away. What a ripoff! Among the 2,700 corporations cashing in on such absurd diversions of state taxes from public need to private greed are Goldman Sachs, GE, Motorola, and (((AMC Entertainment has since been sold to Dalian Wanda Group of China. )))

When this tax deal was cut AMC and Cordish Co. of Baltimore were partners. As of 5/25/12 this partnership is becoming history.

As with many buyouts/mergers people lose jobs sooner of later due to the expense of purchase. Is all of the above legal as far as the $47 million tax dollar give away is concerned?

Where is the $47 million tax dollars?

Dave Trabert 5 years, 4 months ago

Putting an end to crony capitalism is another way to implement tax reform. There are many ways to reduce the tax burden without compromising services. I understand its hard to imagine how that can be done...but it can. The key is getting government agencies focused on a Better Service, Better Price mentality instead of preserving the status quo.

I would be happy to come to Lawrence and participate in a public discussion of the many ways this can be accomplished.

Maybe LJW or some other group would like to help arrange it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 4 months ago

"Putting an end to crony capitalism is another way to implement tax reform."

But you want to replace crony capitalism with full-out plutocracy. We're already halfway there, and it's already pretty ugly. No thanks.

chootspa 5 years, 4 months ago

Man, my irony meter just broke on that one. The ALEC member and Koch "think tank" guy is calling for an end to crony capitalism. Ha! And he's doing so under the governorship of Brownback, who never saw an AFP/Koch appointee he didn't like or an ALEC meeting he wouldn't attend.

Greg Cooper 5 years, 4 months ago

Not if you use another name for the donkey.

gmanobmo 5 years, 4 months ago

Dave - don't waste the time and gas to come to Lawrence. Why not be more efficient yourself and give us some specific examples of your suggestions.

Give us a couple specific examples of crony capitalism in Kansas.

globehead 5 years, 4 months ago

Explain "crony capitalism" for us please. Yesterday, it was reported that Brenda Landwehr was given a state job with DCF. The job was unannounced. She did not have to compete for it. She lost her most recent bid to return to the legislature. She is a Wichita republican who has been in the legislature for years. Per, her husband gave $1,500 to the 2010 Brownback campaign. Is this "crony capitalism" or is it efficient government? DCF employees haven't had raises in over four years. There is a virtual lock on promotional opportunities for classified employees. In some cases, caseloads have more than doubled. Explain how services in such a scenario do not deteriorate. If you want less spending, make government more efficient FIRST, and hopefully, savings will follow, if justified. To arbitrarily reduce the budget first guarantees chaos. That is what is happening now in DCF. Ask those on the front line of service delivery. Ask 'em all.

verity 5 years, 4 months ago

"Ask those on the front line of service delivery."

But they never do. Exorbitant amounts are paid to "experts" who come up with stupidity and make things more inefficient.

verity 5 years, 4 months ago

"His role is to misdirect and confuse . . ."


RubyVrooom 5 years, 4 months ago

Does anyone have an idea of who will be running against Brownback next year? Or is it just assumed that he's going to win re-election?

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 4 months ago

I would like to know that also. We are going to need more Democrats to get out and campaign loudly and often for their candidate. I am praying that Brownback is not reelected but I am afraid that with the western part of the state the way it is, we are doomed.

verity 5 years, 4 months ago

Please contact the Kansas Democratic Party and tell them it is imperative to get a candidate up and running NOW, not only for governor, but for SoS and AG. Email them once a week.

Or email Sandy Praeger and tell her you would support her if she runs against Brownback.

We will have Brownback until 2018 if we just sit around and whine.

jjt 5 years, 4 months ago

Losing 1500 +/- of TAX relief on home mortgage interest is not the big deal. NOT being able to sell your home is the big deal, having it repossessed is the big deal, being underwater is the big deal. "Oh, that wont happen" Well it has already ......... Mrs Thatcher did exactly this in '88 in the UK. At the time I was a partner in a Real Estate agency with around 80 staff and 12 offices. Like most folk today we did not pay much attention to the relief being taken away.
WE WERE WRONG. In the space of 6 weeks around October sales dropped by around 70% as confidence in the market crashed. It never really recovered. What I am writing is not an opinion it is what actually happened. If one thinks the previous last two years property market has been bad you have not seen anything yet. If the same thing happens here and confidence in the property market collapses as it did in the UK so do sales in everything else from car sales to restaurants.

jonas_opines 5 years, 4 months ago

"Explain "crony capitalism" for us please."

Ha, what do you think it means?

"Somebody other than me got the money."

verity 5 years, 4 months ago

For once I actually understood what Mr Trabert said, but it still made no sense.

I join with the others in asking for particulars on how we are going to cut spending that much and still offer needed services.

And how many times must it be said---Gov Brownback is NOT a conservative.

And how many times must it be said that the real agenda is not efficient anything, but the destruction of the middle class and a return to the dark ages when church and state were intertwined and life was short and brutal for most people. And we're getting there fast.

hammerhawk 5 years, 4 months ago

I am a retired school administrator who has found it difficult to support anything proposed by current Governor Brownback. But low and behold!!!! Brownback says he wants Kansas to be more like Texas. Me too. Let's cut taxes on food!! Texas is one of the states that does not charge sales tax on FOOD! What a great idea. Even a person who knows we need taxes to support quality schools could support eliminating sales taxes for FOOD.

Join me and get the word out. Cut sales taxes on FOOD.

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