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Sale tax issue front and center as Legislature convenes today

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Topeka — As legislators gather today for the start of the 2013 session, one of the main budget issues is whether to make permanent the 6.3 percent state sales tax, which under current law is set to fall to 5.7 percent on July 1.

Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, has talked about the possibility of extending the 6.3 percent levy as the state grapples with budget shortfalls caused by income tax cuts he signed into law.

But if he wants to do that, he may not get any help from Democrats.

In the depths of the "Great Recession," a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans in 2010 approved increasing the state sales tax from 5.3 percent to 6.3 percent to avoid deeper budget cuts .

Under the law, the increased rate holds for three years and then falls to 5.7 percent, with four-tenths of one cent going toward paying for transportation projects. Many of those moderate Republicans and Democrats who voted for the temporary sales tax increase were defeated at the polls.

Since Republicans hold significant majorities in the Legislature — 92-33 in the House and 32-8 in the Senate — it is possible to make the temporary sales tax permanent without Democratic votes. But that would require the votes of some Republicans who have pledged to oppose tax increases.

"There isn't any amount of political spin that the governor or those legislators who adamantly opposed the sales tax increase can put on this. If they want to extend the tax increase, it is a tax increase pure and simple," said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka.

Asked if Democrats might face the dilemma of cutting programs they support or voting to extend the tax, Hensley said, "Sam Brownback wants to extend the sales tax to pay for his income tax cut. Let there be no misunderstanding about this at all."

Even last year, Brownback had proposed that the state keep the 6.3 percent rate to offset income tax cuts.

He has argued that cutting income taxes does more to stimulate the economy than lowering the sales tax.

Keeping the sales tax at 6.3 percent would raise approximately $250 million for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The gap between current state spending and projected revenue for the next fiscal year is already weighing in at $700 million.

Comments

2 years, 7 months ago

The Guv cut income taxes following Koch, ALEC and the loud-mouthed Party of the Teabag directives, now he wants to leave a regressive tax in place to support those cuts. But then, we know holds his leash.

Liberty275 2 years, 7 months ago

Who is holding your leash and not letting you send in more of you income? If you want to pay more, buy a money order with your paycheck (if you get one) every week and send it to the state.

I know, that isn't really what you want. What you prefer is the state taking more from everyone else.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years, 7 months ago

Virginia is trying to do away with their 17% gasoline tax and move taxes on gasoline to a .008 Sales tax which would make it revenue neutral. Kansas should do something like this.

Any type of consumption tax is much more fair. All those who want to bilk the rich should line up for this as they consume more so they would pay more.

bad_dog 2 years, 7 months ago

"All those who want to bilk the rich should line up for this as they consume more so they would pay more."

Please elaborate how one group consumes more items subject to sales tax. Auto purchases would be a good case study. I wonder who buys the most expensive cars? I wonder who purchases the least food, or entertainment or clothing (highest quality/ greatest volume/ price points, etc.)

Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years, 7 months ago

You have to agree that if the left really wants a fair tax, some sort of straight up consumption tax is the only answer. What is fair about soaking the rich, and then the middle class, then giving it to many who chose not to work?

Alyosha 2 years, 7 months ago

Without a definition of "left," your point is meaningless.

Also, kindly point to a source where a responsible citizen uses the term "soaking the rich."

If you can't either define "left" as you deploy it in your comment, or point to a source for "soaking the rich," your comment has nothing in reality to do with this story.

Lastly, point out with facts how money is "given" to those who "choose not to work," ideally demonstrating when and how they "chose" not to work.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years, 7 months ago

Those choosing not to work are not those that are being laid off. Boeing made a business decision to reorganize and probally move out of state as what, Washington state was had a more business friendly climate? I would guess that many of the contracts let by major purchasers of airplanes chose Airbus because it is a quality product and is cheaper. I would guess this again is due to the union labor driving up the prices. Our Governer is attempting to do something about this problem.

roadwarrior 2 years, 7 months ago

reply to cant - have - it - both - ways The state of Virginia has a 5.0% sales tax with an exemption for prescription medications and over-the-counter medications. Food is taxed at 2.5% and includes a statewide local tax of 1.0%.

The state of Kansas has a 6.3% sales tax with an exemption for prescription medications. An income credit to compensate poor households may apply.

(the income credit is going away with an end to income tax. No income taxes, no credits) We are getting screwed "both ways". But hey, by all means, lets put a new copper dome on the capital !!

roadwarrior 2 years, 7 months ago

if I have read the statistics correctly, only Kansas, Mississippi and South Carolina tax food at the full sales tax rate. Most all other states exempt food from sales tax or have a reduced sales tax rate on food. Montana has no sales tax at all.

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