Archive for Thursday, May 16, 2013

Higher education funding back at the forefront; Republican leaders still negotiating budget and taxes

May 16, 2013, 11:29 a.m. Updated May 16, 2013, 9:42 p.m.


— Key budget negotiators on Friday sought to cut funding to higher education, but couldn’t agree on how much.

House Republicans have recommended a 4 percent across-the-board cut for each of the next two fiscal years to universities, community colleges and technical schools.

Senate Republicans countered with a 1 percent cut for each of the next two fiscal years.

“It’s the last piece,” House budget leader Rep. Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, said of the impasse over higher ed funding.

The two sides were trying to resolve budget differences in the next day or two in an effort to wrap up the 2013 legislative session.

In addition to the proposed across-the-board cuts, the House plan diverts millions of dollars in lapsed funds from universities. The total cuts to universities would be $42.1 million, or 7.4 percent, according to figures provided by the Kansas Board of Regents.

Kansas University and the KU Medical Center would take a combined hit of nearly $20 million.

In recent weeks, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has toured the state, arguing against the proposed cuts.

KU officials have repeatedly said the 4 percent budget cut proposed by the House would have a devastating impact and could put the KU Cancer Center’s National Cancer Institute designation at risk.

Last year, KU’s Cancer Center won NCI designation after several years of effort. The designation will open up more research and clinical trials, but officials said renewal of the designation will be difficult to achieve under the proposed cuts.

Sales, income taxes

House and Senate leaders were also wrangling over how to adjust taxes to prevent a budget crisis.

Income tax cuts signed into law last year by Brownback have produced a revenue crunch, and Brownback and his allies in the Senate have called on maintaining the state sales tax at 6.3 percent to balance the budget and to provide for future income tax cuts. Under current law, the sales tax is supposed to decrease to 5.7 percent on July 1.

But House leaders want to let the higher sales tax expire. On Wednesday, they offered a plan that would drop the sales tax to 6 percent on July 1 and phase in additional income tax cuts over four years. It also would reduce the standard deduction for head of household to $5,000 from $9,000, and the married-filing-jointly deduction to $6,500 from $9,000.

House and Senate leaders say that phasing out the income tax will increase economic growth. Democrats have said increasing the sales tax to replace the income tax will create more budget problems and benefit mostly the wealthy.

The Kansas Democratic Party said the proposal would increase sales tax over four years by $745 million and eliminate $1.35 billion in middle-class tax deductions.


toe 5 years ago

Higher Ed cuts are principally the result of educators supporting only one party. Since there are no constituents there is no support.

chootspa 5 years ago

Did that sentence even make sense in your own head?

question4u 5 years ago

"It also would reduce the standard deduction for head of household to $5,000 from $9,000, and the married-filing-jointly deduction to $6,500 from $9,000."

Hooray! The house plan sounds great. Anyone with a family who pays income tax in Kansas (sorry business owners, but you don't get to participate) will be able to pay HIGHER state income taxes next year as well as continue to pay a higher sales tax that was supposed to expire. Reducing the standard deduction by $4,000 for heads of households and $2,500 for married filing jointly won't be much of a thrill for wealthy taxpayers, of course, but those who aren't wealthy will get the full enjoyment of paying tax on $2,500 to $4,000 more in 2014 than they will this year, whether their income goes up, stays the same, or drops.

It's a source of constant amazement that Kansans are so generous that they will accept a higher sales tax so that business owners can have a free ride. It's nothing short of incredible that Kansans are so generous that they will lower their standard deduction and now gladly pay taxes on $2,500 to $4,000 of their income that was formerly exempt.

Sorry that you have to miss out on the fun, business owners, but in Kansas paying higher income tax AND higher sales tax is is a privilege reserved for the rest of us.

sciencegeek 5 years ago

Funny how the very people whose elections were bought and paid for by the Koch propaganda machine aren't following the script. Has the Koch/AFP/KPI/ALEC cabal reaped the whirlwind?

Thinking_Out_Loud 5 years ago

Well, those negotiations were fun while they lasted! Save my seat during the intermission. I'm going to the restroom and then get some Milk Duds and popcorn.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 5 years ago

I would much rather they lower property taxes drastically. Retired persons living on fixed incomes are being taxed out of their homes due to increasing property taxes. These taxes should be frozen at the level they are when persons reach age 65.

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