Archive for Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Editorial: Property tax hike for schools

February 14, 2018


No one wants their property taxes to increase, but it may be the fairest way to fund Kansas public schools adequately.

Rep. Steven Johnson, R-Assaria, who chairs the House Taxation Committee, said property taxes will be front and center as lawmakers begin working to find an estimated $600 million to satisfy a Kansas Supreme Court order to increase school funding.

“The reason for property is, we had a meaningful change in income tax in 2017, a meaningful change in sales tax in 2015, and the one thing we did not discuss in committee last year was property tax,” Johnson said.

The statewide property tax levy is 20 mills, or $184 on a home valued at $100,000. That does not include additional property taxes levied by individual districts for local option budgets, capital outlay and debt financing.

Under a bill Johnson has introduced, the property tax levy would increase gradually to 26.76 mills for the 2018-2019 school year; 32.82 mills for 2019-2020; and 38.43 mills for 2020-2021 and beyond.

For the owner of a $100,000 house, that would raise the statewide school tax to $246.19 the first year; then to $338.74 the second year; and to $353.56 in the third year and beyond.

Johnson’s plan is opposed by Democrats. House Democratic Leader Jim Ward of Wichita, a candidate for governor, described the plan as “dead on arrival.”

“The most unpopular tax, the most unfair tax, the most wrong-headed way to fund schools is based on property,” he said. “And we know that because that’s the way we did it in the ’70s and ’80s, and it resulted in the first lawsuit. It’s the absolute wrong thing to do.”

Ward and other Democrats support further increasing the state income tax. They note that the recent federal tax overhaul by the Trump administration has saved Kansas’ wealthiest taxpayers hundreds of millions in taxes. Rep. Tim Hodge, D-North Newton, has introduced a bill that would raise the top marginal tax rate to 10 percent on income in excess of $500,000 a year for an individual or $1 million a year for a married couple.

But after a major triumph last session in joining with Republicans to reinstate state income taxes that had been slashed by then Gov. Sam Brownback, Democrats are naïve if they think they can rely on more income taxes to address the school funding issue.

It’s smart for the state to diversify its sources of revenue, and a balanced mix of income, sales and property taxes does that. For state legislators who are almost out of time and options to approve a plan for public education, Johnson’s property tax proposal may be the most pragmatic — and legislatively achievable — solution.


Mike Reid 1 week, 2 days ago

Just because there has not been a recent change in property taxes is no reason to raise them, and you give no justification for doing so. School funding should be shared by all Kansans, not just a property owner. The plan is a greater tax on single people that own property. Income tax is the only fair way to fund public education.

Richard Heckler 1 week, 2 days ago

Mr Johnson is offering a way of relieving conservative republicans of their responsibility which is unacceptable.

Conservative republicans wrecked the situation in the first place which was never approved by taxpayers. Face conservative republicans are irresponsible and reckless with OUR MONEY in order to push the privatization agenda.

Richard Heckler 1 week, 2 days ago

An excellent public school system drives economic growth !

Would you favor a sales tax increase to provide more money for Lawrence teacher salaries?

Teacher Salary Support

Of 5,198 voting 80% said yes. Remarkable ( of course we know this won't fly UNLESS the state legislature says yes)

BUT instead of shooting for a tax increase I say city government help out the school district.

  1. Lend 10% of the existing 1995 city sales tax money to the school district to keep existing schools open AND give teachers a raise. It is worth a shot but will not come easy. “Let the voter decide” This will leave 90% of the sales tax to the park department…. Not too shabby.

BTW this special sales tax can be delegated to any need. It is NOT dedicated.

Parents might be willing to find other means to get your students to school IF it meant keeping all the schools open,retaining important subject matter/programs and retaining a skilled teaching staff?

Think car pooling, assistance from family members ,walking and biking.

Again an excellent public school system is economic growth material!
Lawrence,Kansas needs to start talking about this.

To maintain a superb system parents must remain active which means we cannot allow school boards to dictate what will be. As taxpayers we are also the most important stakeholders who elect school boards to carry out our wishes not the other way around.

Our founding fathers wanted to insure Democracy for our country. Benjamin Franklin created the public library, the purpose being no citizen will be secluded from public knowledge. He also founded the public school, the purpose being no citizen will be without a basic education.

Richard Heckler 1 week, 2 days ago

About 30 years ago USD 497 was among the top 10 school districts in the nation.

Then conservatives came along to demonstrate that reducing public education budgets can reap havoc on the system. They are proud of their of the reckless behavior.

Tony Peterson 1 week, 2 days ago

Property taxes in Lawrence are already killing me primarily because of the school district levy and the school bonds. My property taxes are now the equivalent of what I paid for half a year of mortgage payments and that covered principle, interest, taxes, and insurance.

Increases also hit the single elderly property owner living on a fixed income the hardest. By the time I'm old enough to start drawing social security it'll take two entire monthly checks just to pay my property taxes.

Tony Peterson 1 week, 1 day ago

Actually 2 1/2 checks because my Social Security will also be taxed.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 1 week, 2 days ago

Retired seniors on fixed incomes are having problems paying property taxes as it is. If you increase them like you wish, you will put many seniors out of their homes. I am totally opposed to any property tax increases, we are having enough problems paying them now.

Calvin Anders 1 week, 2 days ago

So LJW editorial staff have decided that property taxes are the way to go here? My issue with this kind of editorial is that it justifies an approach by first claiming it is the most fair solution and then offering no support for that position. Then it takes a sharp turn and pushes this solution as the only practical solution. The implication by LJW is that this solution is the fair solution simply because it is most practical. That's some twisted propaganda. I realize it's an opinion piece, but that does not excuse the manipulative construction of the piece. I think LJW here is reflecting corporate and wealthy views that income taxes on businesses and the wealthy should remain low and the middle class should pick up the tab here. LJW is of the "opinion" that their corporate owners would like them to avoid expressing any views that endorse higher taxes on businesses.

David Holroyd 1 week, 1 day ago

The Journal World is now owned by a liberal group that is only in selling advertising. And of course they would support the taxes, they don't own any real estate in the city.

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