House candidates on the issues: Do you support a change in the state’s income tax structure?

Dan Blom - October 17, 2016 11:30 am

Topeka_KS_Cpa

We sent questions last week to candidates for state representative in Kansas House Districts 19, 21, 24 and 25, all of which cover sections of northeast Johnson County. The questions we selected came from the large number of questions submitted by readers.

By the deadline to respond to the first question, we had received the following responses that appear below. Today’s question is:

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Would you support rolling back the income tax cuts enacted by the legislature in recent years, including the exemptions on LLC income? Please be specific about the tax policy you favor?

House District 19

Elizabeth Meitl

Elizabeth Meitl
Elizabeth Meitl

I do support rolling back the income tax cuts. Since the tax policy changes that started in 2012, we have seen a dramatic drop in state funds available for the most fundamental of government responsibilities, like education and road maintenance. I favor a tax policy which is balanced and co-created with input from all stakeholders.

Our current tax system is the result of one man’s vision of a large-scale economic experiment. It has disproportionally hurt the most vulnerable Kansans, and benefited the wealthy. This is an experiment that has gone horribly wrong, and to perpetuate it is unconscionable.

My idea of how to create a reasonable tax policy is to engage the smart people of Kansas to contribute ideas, time, and resources to help us craft a tax policy in which our state’s collective best interests are supported. It does mean wealthy people and businesses will have to pay more, but they will benefit, too.

I do not think it is reasonable to create loopholes, exceptions, or malleable points of leverage which inevitably end up favoring the privileged. I do not think it is acceptable to try to fund a state by taxing food at higher rates than most of the country while letting businesses off the hook. We are a state that has a history of compassion and pragmatism, and I think our tax policy should reflect that.

John Taube

John Taube
John Taube

I would support the rolling back of tax cuts and exemptions from 2012. The taxes would look very much the same as before the 2012 legislation. But once Corporations and Businesses are back on the tax payroll, Kansas needs to move to a better taxing system.

The Kansas Fair Tax is a consumption based tax plan that is much more fair and efficient at creating tax revenue, while still encouraging growth in the private sector. The Kansas Fair Tax lays out all the details of the tax plan, but there are some notable exceptions: not one individual or family are taxed on any purchases that remain within the Poverty level of spending. This ensures that low or fixed income citizens, such as young families and retirees, never pay taxes on basic life purchases. Also, used items are never taxed in sales. This includes used cars, and homes. Education is not taxed. Savings is not Taxed. Americans and Kansans essentially choose weather or not the money they spend will be taxed. I encourage readers to follow up on this tax system that is much less burdensome than our complicated tax plan.

Stephanie Clayton
Response not received by the deadline.

House District 21

Jerry Stogsdill

Jerry Stogsdill
Jerry Stogsdill

I definitely support the repeal of the Governor’s 2012 income tax exemptions for businesses and individuals. I will support a new tax structure that is broad based, that includes all segments of the economy, and that eliminates political and financial favoritism for the wealthy elite and special interests that benefit most from the present system. Brownback’s 2012 tax cuts have been implemented at the expense of the middle class, our students, and our most vulnerable citizens.

Those 2012 tax cuts were the origin of Kansas’ current economic woes. Brownback’s irresponsible tax cut “experiment” has resulted in an unprecedented economic disaster. A fair and balanced tax structure spread across income, property and sales taxes, supported by all segments of the economy will provide the funding necessary for good schools, good roads, needed social services, and economic growth. I also support the reduction and the eventual elimination of the regressive tax on food, the highest in America, which hurts our most vulnerable citizens and their children. Business people and the great majority of Kansans in general understand that a fair and balanced tax structure is a critical necessity for strong economic development which will help bring modern businesses and high paying jobs to Kansas.

As the former President of the trade association for the high tech industries in Kansas and Missouri, I know what kind of tax structure and other incentives are needed to attract modern, 21st Century companies, with their high paying jobs, to the state of Kansas. My background and proven leadership in the area of economic development will be a tremendous asset in creating a tax code, educational system and business infrastructure that will bring modern businesses and high paying jobs to Kansas.

Dorothy Hughes
Response not received by the deadline.

House District 24

Jarrod Ousley

Jarrod Ousley
Jarrod Ousley

There are three key pieces to our tax policy that will restore equitable and sustainable revenue solutions for our state. As I wrote in a legislative update in May, we must address the tax exemption on LLC income in conjunction with the ratchet mechanism that the Governor has called the “glide path to zero.” The LLC exemption benefits top earning businesses the most, leaving small start-up business owners without much gains, and has not led to job growth in our state. We need to return to a sensible tax policy that includes businesses who benefit from the services our community provides. However, we must repeal the ratchet mechanism in conjunction with restoring LLC contributions, for if the ratchet mechanism remains in place, any gains received from the restoration of the LLC tax will simply be put towards lowering the highest income tax bracket, leaving us without a revenue increase.

In addition to this, we must return to a three tiered income tax structure. The elimination of the top tier income tax in 2012 has benefitted the wealthiest Kansans at the expense of those of us in the middle. Prior to 2012 our rates were as follows: 3.5% for those making under $15,000; 6.25% for those making between $15,000 and $30,000; and 6.45% for those making more than $30,000. After 2012, our rates were 3% for those making less than $15,000 a year, and 4.9% for those making over $15,000. So anyone making more than $15,000 a year is taxed at the same rate, despite the fact that those making more than $150,000 a year are likely in a very different economic situation then those making $15,000.

During discussions over tax policy last session, legislative researchers determined that if we simply returned to three tier system, with the third tier at 5%, our state would be solvent. Implementation of a third tier could begin at much higher income levels, for instance, only with families making over $100,000 a year, and could be done in conjunction with a lowering of the rate for the lowest bracket.

In order to create tax policy that can sustain vital Kansas services (schools, roads, infrastructure) moving forward, and that also distributes a tax responsibility in a manner that is fair to working families, not just the wealthy, we must include all three elements in tax policy moving forward:

Rollback the exemptions on LLCs, S-Corps and other businesses;
Repeal the ratchet mechanism, creating a glide path to solvency; &
Restore an equitable three tiered income tax structure.

Rob Johnson

Rob Johnson
Rob Johnson

I believe we need to look at all recent tax policies and yes, in some cases roll them back. I am in favor in making changes to how the state looks at LLC income. In other cases, adjustments to the current approach are needed. Regarding sales taxes, I favor phasing out the sales tax on food.

The challenge is tax policy is not easy and I think it is not a subject that can be summed up in a campaign slogan. The legislators we send to Topeka in January will need to work collaboratively and not point fingers but truly work to find common ground on this issue. I will be open-minded and look for solutions regardless of where they came from on this important issue.

I appreciate your support on November 8th.

House District 25

Melissa Rooker
Response not received by the deadline.

Matt McCann
Did not respond.

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