Archive for Monday, May 15, 2017

Kansas House puts full repeal of Brownback’s 2012 tax cuts up for consideration

Kansas state Reps. Leo Delperdang, left, R-Wichita, and Kent Thompson, R-Iola, watch as the House approves a bill raising new revenue by eliminating exemptions to the state's sales tax, Monday, May 15, 2017, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. The bill imposes the tax on a few services that have not been taxed, and both lawmakers support it. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

Kansas state Reps. Leo Delperdang, left, R-Wichita, and Kent Thompson, R-Iola, watch as the House approves a bill raising new revenue by eliminating exemptions to the state's sales tax, Monday, May 15, 2017, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. The bill imposes the tax on a few services that have not been taxed, and both lawmakers support it. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

May 15, 2017, 10:49 a.m. Updated May 15, 2017, 5:56 p.m.


— In a surprise move late Monday, Kansas House tax negotiators offered a full repeal of the tax cuts that Gov. Sam Brownback championed in 2012, a plan that some Democrats have been calling for since those cuts were made, but one that appears unlikely to pass.

House Taxation Committee Chairman Rep. Steven Johnson, R-Assaria, offered that plan in a late-afternoon conference committee meeting with Senate counterparts.

“I’m speechless,” said a shocked Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, who then said Senate negotiators wanted to think about the proposal overnight.

Later, she told reporters that she “absolutely” thought it was a serious proposal on the House’s part, but added, “I don’t think it’s going anywhere.”

The offer came just hours after the full House passed and sent to the Senate a bill that would take Kansas tax policy in a vastly different direction. It would repeal a number of sales tax exemptions on various services to generate about $60 million a year starting in the fiscal year that begins July 1. But it would also lower the sales tax rate on food by one percentage point starting in 2020, which would then offset the increased revenue.

The three Democratic House members from Lawrence — Reps. Barbara Ballard, Boog Highberger and John Wilson — all voted against that bill. Republican Rep. Tom Sloan of Lawrence voted in favor of it.

Highberger said in a written explanation of his vote that the sales tax changes would make it more difficult to pass a larger income tax reform bill, and that the savings to most families from the 1-cent sales tax reduction would only amount to about $1 per week, assuming the lower rate is allowed to take effect in 2020.

“These changes should be done as part of a comprehensive tax plan, with full hearings so we can hear from all of the parties affected,” Highberger said in the written statement that was co-signed by four other House Democrats.

It was believed after that vote that House leaders were working toward a toward a solution that would include a combination of sales tax exemption repeals and income tax increases to balance the state’s budget and pay for an increase in K-12 education funding.

“We’re looking for a number of plans that different folks are behind,” Johnson said when asked if House leaders were supporting the proposal. “This is one that’s been talked about in different areas. I don’t know that anyone wants complete ownership, but it’s one that was talked about during the campaign.”

A few hours after the vote in the full House, a House committee finally advanced a bill for a new school funding formula that would increase education funding only $280 million over two years, a drastic reduction from the five-year, $750 million plan the committee had been considering up to that point.

According to the Legislature’s nonpartisan Research Department, full repeal of the 2012 tax cuts starting July 1 would generate $649.5 million in the upcoming fiscal year and $772 million in the fiscal year after that.

It would restore a three-bracket tax system where the lowest wage earners would pay 3.5 percent tax on their taxable income instead of the current 2.7 percent.

Currently, the upper bracket taxes income above $30,000 for married couples filing jointly at 4.6 percent. Returning to the pre-2012 tax code would raise that rate to 6.25 percent on income between $30,001 and $60,000 and 6.45 percent on income above that.

Full repeal of the 2012 tax cuts would also restore a number of tax deductions that were either repealed or reduced under Brownback’s tax plan, but it would also lower the standard deduction for tax filers.

The House proposal did not call for lowering the sales tax rate from its current 6.5 percent. Lawmakers raised the sales tax rate, from 6.15 percent, in 2015 to make up for some of the revenue that had been lost from the earlier income tax cuts.

The tax conference committee plans to meet again Tuesday. At that time, Senate negotiators could either agree to send the full repeal to one chamber or the other, or they could return with a counter-offer.


Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 months ago

Yes. It's time to see who refuses to admit this huge mistake, so we know who NOT to vote for next election. Let Brownback veto it. We know what a jerk he is and the fact that he isn't going to the luxury vacation where the Republican governors will sign their loyalty oaths to Trump means he is headed to Italy soon. Sure we have Colyer, but he will be gone in less than 2 years too. Stand up to this failed experiment!!!

Larry Sturm 10 months ago

Congress do your job and over ride a veto, stand up to Brownback and the Koch brothers.

Richard Heckler 10 months ago

It’s easy to become mesmerized by The Donald Show in this year’s political circus, but it’s time for progressives to focus on the outer rings, where the Koch brothers, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and their corporate cohorts have laid siege to our state governments.

It’s not a coincidence that such a large flock of corporatists and right-wing ideologues now roosts in state offices and keeps pushing exactly the same anti-people rhetoric and tactics.

Nor is their lockstep embrace of identical corporation-enthroning proposals the result of small minds thinking alike. More than a firefight here or an ambush there, the Koch-ALEC cabal have launched a massive, coordinated maneuver to conquer the countryside.

If you doubt that the strategy has gone local, consider this fact: Even though the Kochs did not back a presidential campaign and said that they were concentrating on only a half dozen US Senate races last year, they deployed 1,600 paid political staffers into 38 states to drive elections and policy campaigns.

This is why we must pay attention: Donald Trump is not the only – or even the biggest – danger to our democratic republic.

As Arn Pearson, general counsel of Center for Media Democracy, warns: “There are a lot of different parts of the Koch machine pulling on this oar. From their think tanks up through their elected officials, they’re pushing on it. Hard.”

You might think this is madness, but madness – spurred by plutocratic greed – is the new American political reality. Just being progressive won’t stop it. We have to get aggressively progressive to confront and defeat the Kochheads in our states.

Rolling back the effects of the continuing decades-long attack on America’s ideal of the common good will take some work. To get started, check out Center for Media Democracy.

Cait McKnelly 10 months ago

Even if it passes, Brownback will veto it, just like he did to Medicaid expansion. Nice try, though

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