By Don Ratzlaff
January 25, 2017
In the midst of Gov. Brownback’s proposal to shore up the Kansas budget by borrowing more and delaying and deferring funding away from transportation, education and KPERS, Rise Up Kansas is proposing a comprehensive approach to fix the state’s revenue shortfalls.
Anyone interested in learning about the fix “Rise Up Kansas” is proposing to Kansas legislators is invited to a town hall meeting at the Dorothy Bramlage Public Library, 230 W. 7th St., Junction City, at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29.
Kansas has experienced difficulty in balancing its budget since enacting cuts to income taxes on the upper bracket and eliminating income taxes on business LLC’s in 2012. The non-partisan group Rise Up Kansas proposes to undo those cuts and tax eliminations, and other measures to restructure the state’s tax code to benefit all Kansans.
The Rise Up Kansas proposal calls for the state to:
Reinstate income taxes on business LLCs. This measure already being considered by many legislators to close a tax loophole only covers about 30 percent of the shortfall and cost the state about $300 million a year. Without this revenue, school districts, municipalities, counties and other governing bodies will have to raise property taxes to continue services for which they receive state funding.
Re-balance individual income tax brackets. The 2012 cuts eliminated the upper tax bracket, structuring it so that the a person making millions now pays the same rate as those making $15,000 a year, which is close to minimum wage. “Rise Up Kansas” proposed to reinstate the upper tax bracket of 6.45 percent for those making $33,000 a year or more.
Reserve gas tax for transportation. Kansas funds its highway program through its 24-cent per gallon gas tax, a rate that hasn’t changed for the last 13 years while costs of highway construction have gone up about 31 percent. Rise Up Kansas proposes to increase the gas tax to 35 cents per gallon and to reserve 11 cents for transportation only.
Lower sales tax on food. At 6.5 percent, Kansas is one of only seven in the nation to fully tax food. Reducing it to 5 percent would cost the state about $99 million. Rise Up Kansas proposes to gradually lower sales tax on food and reduce it to 5 percent in the first year.
End the “March to Zero.” This law states that the state cannot increase revenues by more than 2.25 percent without lowering income taxes, essentially guaranteeing that the state will never get out of its budget crisis.
The Rise Up Kansas Coalition represents the Center for Economic Growth, Kansas Action for Children, the Kansas National Education Association, the Kansas Organization of State Employees and the Kansas Contractors Association. It has spent the last year and a half studying tax plans from other states.
The public is invited to join this Kansas Day event that has been coordinated with Morris and seven additional counties in the area. All legislators in these counties have been invited to attend this important event.