Kansas Republicans, Faced with Massive Deficit, Consider Raising Taxes
Confronted with a $400 million budget deficit brought on by tax cuts, Kansas Republicans, who control the state government, are now seriously thinking of raising taxes to fix the mess they created.
Governor Sam Brownback insisted after first taking office that cutting income taxes was the way to generate more income for residents and prosperity for the state. The reductions dropped personal income taxes from 6.45% to 3.9% for upper earners and from 3.5% to 2.3% for lower-income people over a period of several years.
The results were “never as good as we hoped,” Republican state Senator Les Donovan told The New York Times.
Instead, the cuts forced the state to slash spending. “The governor has cut some state agency budgets by 4 percent, reduced contributions to the state pension system and shifted money between state accounts,” the Times reported. “Lawmakers have rolled back funding for poorer school districts and changed the way they allocate money to schools. They have slowed funding increases for entitlement programs.”
But even after all of that the budget is $400 million in the red, and more cuts would take away even more funding from schools, some of which closed in April this year because they ran out of money. So Republicans, including Brownback, are now working on ways to increase revenues through tax hikes.
The governor’s plan would raise $428 million by increasing the sales tax from 6.15% to 6.65% and the cigarette tax by 50 cents a pack, from 79 cents to $1.29. He would also eliminate personal income taxes for some individuals earning up to $17,250 a year and couples earning up to $24,500.
Democrats object to the plan because sales tax increases are regressive, affecting the poor the most.
The tax cuts hurt the budget in another way. The legislative session, which is usually 90 days, is now past 100 days. Each additional day costs Kansas taxpayers $40,000.
To Learn More:
To Fill Budget Hole, Kansas GOP Considers the Unthinkable: Raising Taxes (by John Eligon, New York Times)
Kansas Governor Outlines New Tax Plan To Close Budget Gap (by John Hanna, Associated Press)
Kansas Passes Restrictive Welfare Law Seen as Mean-Spirited, Punitive (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Report Reveals Kansas Gov. Brownback’s Tax Policies will put His State $1 Billion in Debt…6 Days after He Won Re-Election (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Steve Straehley, AllGov)
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