Stealthy Kansas lawmakers pass early morning tax hikes

06/02/2013 2:19 PM

06/02/2013 7:30 PM

In the dead of Sunday morning Kansas lawmakers passed tax increases worth $777 million over the next five years, shoveling a bigger financial burden onto many constituents.

Remember that state sales tax that was going to drop to 5.7 percent, as set in a 2010 law?

That won’t happen. Gov. Sam Brownback and the GOP-controlled House and Senate broke that promise and approved raising the rate to 6.15 percent as of July 1.

That will generate hundreds of millions in extra revenue, with the money desperately needed to keep the state functioning after Brownback and the Legislature in 2012 approved far-too-steep income tax cuts.

Not all conservatives were tricked. “I’m not buying that this is a tax cut,” said Sen. Dennis Pyle, a Hiawatha Republican. “This is a tax increase,” he said of having the sales tax rise from the 5.7 to 6.15 percent level.

But that’s not all.

Republican legislators, who seem to live in an alternative universe from most Kansans, also approved a law that will reduce the standard income tax deduction for Kansans. Yes, that’s essentially another boost in taxes.

But that’s not all

.

The GOP also whacked away at the deductions allowed taxpayers, such as the home mortgage deduction. Say hello to more money from Kansans for state government.

Yes, Brownback and the Legislature also endorsed small dips in the personal income tax rates for Kansans.

What’s that mean? The state will get less revenue and taxes will go down for some, but especially high-income residents.

Voila: The Republicans continue to succeed in sticking low- and middle-income residents with higher regressive means such as the sales tax, while peddling tax cuts that largely benefit the wealthy.

Now notice this: The sales tax rate that will hike taxes on Kansans takes effect on July 1. But the new income tax reductions take five years to phase in.

Lawmakers may have to pull the plug on those promised income tax cuts — just like they failed to keep their pledge to reduce the sales tax rate as called for in the 2010 law.

The Kansas session cost taxpayers nearly an extra half-million dollars, thanks to the Republicans who couldn’t make up their minds on how to raise taxes without being caught. What a costly failure the 2013 Legislature became in the end.

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