Archive for Thursday, May 30, 2013

House rejects another tax increase, negotiations to continue

May 30, 2013


— Another day, another proposed tax increase shot down in the House.

This one, which would have raised taxes nearly $700 million over 5 years, was the product of a mini-revolt among Republicans and died Thursday on an 18-94 vote.

The bottom line is the Kansas Legislature will enter its 98th day of what was supposed to be a 90-day session and one that GOP leaders said earlier would last only 80 days.

House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, (left) speaks with state Rep. Mark Hutton, R-Wichita, after a tax increase proposal by Hutton and state Rep. Gene Suellentrop, R-Wichita, was defeated on Thursday. Merrick voted against the plan.

House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, (left) speaks with state Rep. Mark Hutton, R-Wichita, after a tax increase proposal by Hutton and state Rep. Gene Suellentrop, R-Wichita, was defeated on Thursday. Merrick voted against the plan.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and GOP legislative leaders are pushing for another round of cuts in income tax rates, saying that will stimulate the economy.

But to do that, they want to increase the state sales tax and slash income tax deductions. So far, House and Senate Republicans have't been able to agree on how to do that. Democrats, who are vastly outnumbered in both chambers, have opposed Brownback's tax policies.

On Thursday, state Reps. Gene Suellentrop and Mark Hutton, both Wichita Republicans, crafted a wide-ranging tax-and-spend measure that would increase taxes by $698 million over 5 years and cap state budget increases to a maximum of 2 percent per year.

The measure would have set the sales tax at 6.3 percent, which would repeal the current law that says the state sales tax is to decrease to 5.7 percent on July 1.

The bill would also have lowered the state sales tax on groceries from 6.3 percent to 4.9 percent on Oct. 1. Over 5 years, the proposal would phase out half of the itemized tax deductions, such as charitable contributions, mortgage interest and real estate property taxes, and slash standard deductions from $9,000 to $5,000 for head of household and $6,500 for married, filing jointly.

And it would have ratcheted down over 5 years the top income tax rate of 4.9 percent to 3.5 percent, and the bottom rate of 3 percent to 2.5 percent.

Hutton and Suellentrop said the plan would be accepted by the Senate and Brownback.

But the proposal got attacked on several fronts.

"This is still a $700 million tax increase on the citizens of Kansas," said state Rep. Julie Menghini, D-Pittsburg.

State Rep. John Rubin, R-Shawnee, said making permanent the temporary 6.3 percent state sales tax rate "breaks our promise to the voters of Kansas." The 6.3 percent rate was adopted in 2010 as a 3-year rate to offset historic revenue declines during the Great Recession.

But Hutton, a freshman legislator in his first session, urged colleagues to endorse his proposal, telling them to "man up" to fix the "mistake" from last year. Hutton was referring to the massive income tax cuts signed into law by Brownback in 2012 despite warnings that the cuts would cause revenue shortfalls for years to come.

State Rep. Scott Schwab, R-Olathe, opposed Hutton's plan, criticizing the proposed lower sales tax rate for groceries as inconsequential and "doesn't help the poor."

House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, voted against the tax package. He said the House and Senate need to continue working on tax proposals in a conference committee. "This is a process," Merrick said.


pace 5 years ago

Sounds like some of them have woke up to brownback's destruction of the working Kansas family.

Jonathan Becker 5 years ago

Never observe the making of law and sausage - Bismarck

dabbindan 5 years ago

keep it up boys, and enjoy the next election.

somebodynew 5 years ago

".... telling them to "man up" to fix the "mistake" from last year....."

Finally, one of them actually admits this whole thing was a mistake. !!! That is progress, BUT his idea to "fix" it is flawed. If you cave in to BB and give him what he wants it will just keep going.

This Legislature spent so much time "fixing" things that weren't broke, now they have something that IS broke and they can't actually fix it.

Just go home and save us money.

Brock Masters 5 years ago

Fixing is reversing some of the tax cuts given last year not raising taxes on the people who didn't benefit from those tax cuts.

Michael LoBurgio 5 years ago

Latest House GOP Tax Hike Plan:

Roughly $700 million tax increase

60% of taxpayers in Kansas, those making $60,000 or less, will see a net tax increase.

Top 1% of taxpayers on average will see a $5800 tax cut.

Standard deductions reduced that will force working families to pay $81 million more in taxes next year.

Increases sales taxes on working families by roughly $200 million in each of the next 5 years.

Kansas taxpayers recognize a tax increase when they see it. No amount of political spin can gloss over this GOP tax hike.

Michael LoBurgio 5 years ago

Here is the latest tax proposal floating around

Here is the latest tax proposal floating around the Kansas State Capitol. If you earn less than $37,000, your taxes will go up under this plan. The average Kansas salary is $39,000. One legislator said today that this plan was introduced to “guarantee the election of Republican legislators.” It was also stated that too much time had been spent during the tax debate worrying about lower income families, and that the focus should be shifted to middle and higher income families because those people vote. Please share if you agree that this is a completely misguided approach to public policymaking.

Michael LoBurgio 5 years ago

Kansas lawmakers play $45,000-a-day joke on taxpayers

The Kansas House met for about an hour Wednesday, then abruptly adjourned until the members meet again on Thursday. And voila! That’s another $45,000 or so in taxpayer funds down the drain.

The lawmakers got to this point because they spent far too much time earlier in the session approving unconstitutional bills on guns and trying to gut the Kansas court plan that’s working perfectly well.

Sure, the Legislature has some important jobs still left to do.

The members haven’t passed a budget yet.

They haven’t decided what the sales tax rate will be after July 1.

When the decisions eventually are made, they could affect how hundreds of millions of dollars are spent in the future and how high the tax burdens will be on people when it comes to income taxes and sales taxes.

Read more here:

verity 5 years ago

Our legislators certainly seem to be "takers." Wanting to get paid for doing nothing. Where are the people who always use that code word now?

Ohhh, and they're mostly Republicans. I guess you're only a "taker" if you're a Democrat. What is it if you are a Republican? An honest way to feed your family because you can't get a job that pays enough?

Michael LoBurgio 5 years ago

Jeff Melcher Really Worried That Grocery-Tax Cut Means People Will Never Buy Anything But Groceries

A Republican state lawmaker in Kansas says that he opposes cutting the taxes on groceries because it would be a form of "social engineering" that encourages people to buy food over other items.

The Kansas Senate on Thursday voted to cut the state sales tax on food from 6.3 percent to 4.95 percent, but Sen. Jeff Melcher (R) led opposition against the measure, arguing that it would lead to people eating more.

"It seems to me we are encouraging the behavior of purchasing food and discouraging the behavior of purchasing anything else," Melcher reportedly told his colleagues.

verity 5 years ago

I thought I was reading The Onion. I even went back to make sure it wasn't in the comedy section.

Looking at Melcher's eyes is truly scary. Please take that photo down---I'm having nightmares.

oldexbeat 5 years ago

Koch lovers all around the state sezs screw the working poor. They don't vote anyway, right? And in SW Kansas many can't vote. But they can pay and pay taxes, for sure. That's the goal, isn't it Sammy?

jafs 5 years ago


And the meter is still running.

All because they couldn't do their job in the time allotted.

Instead of continuing to pay them, we should dock their pay for each day this continues.

question4u 5 years ago

"'This is a process,' Merrick said."

Yes, it's not as though the dementia came on suddenly. If you compare it to the degeneration of a brain, then it began with the the onset of Brownback disorder. It worsened under the influence of ALEC poisoning and Koch's disease. A significant lose of brain function occurred through toxic Chamber-of-Commerce syndrome, which killed all of the cells responsible for the brain's capacity to recognize ethical behavior. The brain is now barely functioning, but Merrick is right, this didn't just happen. It is the result of a process for which we can thank Brownback, ALEC, and the Chamber of Commerce: the pathogens responsible for the diseased tissue inhabiting the capital dome.

William Weissbeck 5 years ago

I hate asking a simple math question of legislators. Because what I'm likely to get back in answer is a combination of the quadratic equation and myth. Why lower the standard deduction and lower overall rates? Generally, the standard deduction benefits those at the lower end who don't have mortgage interest, property taxes or charitable deductions in the first place. Taking itemized deductions from everyone else combined with lower rates may or may not be neutral to them, but it's unlikely neutral to the lowest earners.

destrecht 5 years ago

It's so simple. Stop spending so much and cut taxes. It amazes me when I hear people suggest that raising taxes will help economy. Sebilius raised spending way too much. Just repeal her useless crap.

tomatogrower 5 years ago

What specific examples can you give us? What useless crap? Like when she decided a bunch of state owned cars should be sold off, because they were unnecessary? You can't make an accusation like that, and not back it up with facts. If your only reason is you assume that she spent more money only because she is a democrat, then you would have to change your mind with Jerry Brown. After approaching California's crisis with a balanced approach of minor tax increases and major spending cuts, he has a surplus now. He has done this twice after a spend and tax cut Republican governor has ruined the California budget, namely, Reagan and Schwarzenegger. Hopefully we will have our own Jerry Brown, whether or not he/she is a Democrat or a Republican who has the guts to come in a clean up this mess.

skull 5 years ago

Also, who said raising taxes will help the economy?

Perhaps the legislators are finding out the hard way that there is not really as much waste as they thought. Horrible realization...that government may not be the vast wasteland of beauracracy they thought. I do know a way to save $45,000 a day though...

weeslicket 5 years ago

Q: what's the matter with kansas? A: nothing is rotten in denmark.

tomatogrower 5 years ago

Kansas has always been run by responsible, moderate governors and legislatures up until now. They have for the most part spent wisely, but the new Republicans have jumped on this bandwagon that all government expenditures are wasteful, and that they can fix it. But they are now running into the fact that Kansas budgets have always been pretty bare bones, and that lowering the revenues will not allow the same levels of service and education that we have enjoyed in the past. These things are not free.

I have a question for the governor. If you lower income tax rates, but take away mortgage interest deductions, property tax deductions, and charitable deductions, then wouldn't many people actually be paying the same, or maybe paying more? I think an accountant should give us some figures on this. So, you make taxes easier to file without the dedications, but people are paying the same or more in taxes, but you can claim you lowered taxes? It's really not true, and people will notice, so don't brag too much. I guess people will not have to hire accountants to do their taxes for them anymore, since you have simplified things. Oh great, out of work accountants. Way to stimulate the economy.

Carol Bowen 5 years ago

Closed door meetings, very late budget discussions. The legislator should have tackled the budget first instead of the miscellaneous stuff no one campaigned on. Why are we paying legislators for extending the session? They should have set the budget first. That was their job. There should be no automatic pay extensions.

P.S. There should a challenge to the open meetings law.

JayhawkFan1985 5 years ago

I think the city ordinance is great. Our idiot legislature keeps passing laws that our equally stupid governor keeps signing when both of them know those laws violate federal law. hypocritical as you think.

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