As the Kansas legislative session reconvenes today, Kansas taxpayers are under attack. With government revenue estimates falling the Governor and some legislators are asking the taxpayers to foot the bill to sustain current and even higher spending levels.
Just last week, the Senate Ways and Means committee came together to try to put together an agreement of tax increases in order to resume spending for their budget wish list. They proposed the following tax increases:
-Raising the sales tax to 6.3 percent, $344 million in FY2011 alone,
-tax increases on alcohol totaling over $25 million,
-and a tax increase on cigarettes and other tobacco products totaling over $63 million.
In FY2011 alone, the proposed package would cost the taxpayers of Kansas over $440 million. Over the next 5 years, this tax package would take nearly $2 billion from the pockets of Kansan families and businesses. This tax increase package failed to pass muster in the Senate Ways and Means committee last week; though this failure was said to be due only to efforts to add more taxes to the package. By no means are these tax increases dead. The Senate Ways and Means Committee is meeting again today.
Other tax increases discussed this session included a tax increase on sweetened drinks and the elimination of sales tax exemptions in order to get to taxpayers' pockets. The sweetened drinks tax hike, both an effort of social engineering and an effort to sustain and heighten government spending is estimated to cost taxpayers $90 million in FY2011. The eliminations of the exemptions without the lowering of the tax rate (a tax increase) if adopted would cost Kansans $182 million in fiscal year 2011.
Just last week, Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley (D-Topeka) chose to introduce another proposal into the fray; an increase in the income tax on Kansas couples who make $200,000 or more a year. This proposal would take $56 million from the pockets of Kansans. He wants to make the tax code more progressive by adding three new brackets. In Maryland, when the legislature implemented a "millionaires" tax, 1/3 of them left the tax rolls. Not a wise way to go.
ATR encourages Kansans to write their legislators to let them know that tax increases are not acceptable. The legislature needs to move on finding about $70 million in cuts for FY2010, and then putting together a balanced budget that will not raise taxes for FY2011. Just as people all across Kansas have had to cut their living expenses to live within their means, the state government needs to do the same. To write your legislators, click here.