Governor signs tax bill that drew no support from local delegation

Northeast Johnson County legislators Melissa Rooker (L-R), Stephanie Clayton, Barbara Bollier, Kay Wolf and Emily Perry appeared together at a forum during the session.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback came to Overland Park Thursday to sign a tax bill that continues the march toward lowering income taxes in the state, but which also keeps sales taxes higher. It also starts to remove some itemized deductions and lowers certain standard deductions. That tax bill had no support from northeast Johnson County legislators Sen. Kay Wolf and State Reps. Barbara Bollier, Melissa Rooker, Stephanie Clayton and Emily Perry.

Why did all of our legislators oppose this year’s tax bill that followed the deep income tax cuts of 2012?
Sen. Wolf: “I thought the bill that passed last year wasn’t the best bill for Kansas. I thought we should have revisited that bill. We dug the hole deeper.” The extension of the sales tax, Wolf said, was not necessary. Part of the tax bill kept the state portion of the sales tax at 6.15 percent. A temporary increase to deal with the recession was scheduled to expire this year and drop it back to 5.7 percent.

Rep. Bollier: “People want an investment in government – good schools, public safety and the like. Bollier said she favors a balanced approach to taxes. A move to round up votes for the tax plan by promising to bring a vote against Common Core standards for K-12 schools to the floor was “unconscionable,” she said.

Rep. Rooker: “I think we need to rely on all three revenue streams (sales, property, income). We need to keep them balanced because that is the most sustainable.” Rooker said she believes a basic role of government is to provide certain services and that it is essential to collect enough revenue to support those.

Rep. Clayton: She says her constituents don’t like property tax. “That is the one I would work to reduce,” she said. Her district has a high concentration of seniors, she said, and the income tax does not affect retirees on fixed incomes. None of our business owners asked for the income tax cut, she says. “Growth is my number one priority.” Quality of life – schools, safety, transportation, recreation – attracts and builds business, she said.

Rep. Perry: “I felt it was important to keep our promise to Kansans and let the sales tax increase expire.” She said it was clear during the House debate that none of the extra sales tax revenue would be funding education.

The overall five-year net effect of the tax changes will result in $777 million in added revenue for the state, according to the Kansas Legislative Research Department, with the increase in sales tax and the reduction in income tax.

The 2013 Kansas Legislature dealt with more than budget and taxes – Monday a final word on the legislative wrap-up.