Gov. Kelly backs school sales tax holiday, tax relief for elderly and quicker end of 6.5% food tax

photo by: Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector

Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a candidate for governor in 2022, and Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, who is seeking reelection.

TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly introduced the first piece of a second-term agenda Thursday anchored by proposals to immediately end the state’s tax on grocery purchases, expand by $50 million tax relief to the elderly and create a three-day, back-to-school sales tax holiday.

Kelly said her plan would help every Kansas family save money without raising taxes and “make our state the very best place to live, work and raise a family.”

The “Road Ahead” initiative released five weeks before the Nov. 8 election showdown with Republican gubernatorial nominee Derek Schmidt also would strengthen the workforce, expand economic activity and make strategic investments in the future of children, Kelly said.

She said her strategy would bolster the state’s rainy-day fund, reduce state government debt and prevent diversion of money away from highway programs.

“In my second term, I will build on our foundation and grow the economy through proven strategic investments that we know work,” Kelly said. “I’ve been laser-focused on balancing our budget every year, an investment that has paid off and allowed us to cut taxes. But there’s more we can do.”

She said the school tax holiday ought to be in August. She said seniors on Social Security making less than $100,000 annually would benefit from a $50 million reduction in state taxes over the next three years. The state’s 6.5% sales tax on food would be summarily dropped in accordance with her proposal to the GOP-controlled 2022 Legislature. State lawmakers decided to phase out the grocery sales tax over a three-year period.

Schmidt, a Republican who is the state’s attorney general, recently complained Kelly hadn’t released a second-term blueprint. He announced a 100-day agenda of what would be in play if he was elected governor.

The GOP nominee proposed the elderly retire “tax free” by exempting pensions, Social Security and dedicated retirement benefit distributions from the state income tax. In addition, Schmidt said he would alter the homestead property tax to prevent Kansans from losing a home due to inflation.

Schmidt said he would slow growth of state spending by the Legislature and executive branch, and he would curtail public debt and support an amendment to the Kansas Constitution to protect funding for the state’s transportation program.

— Tim Carpenter reports for Kansas Reflector.

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