Kansas Realtors spent $100k in March to save mortgage deduction

Fueled by a big marketing campaign to protect the home mortgage tax deduction, the Kansas Association of Realtors spent nearly $100,000 on lobbying in March, according to a new report by the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission.

That topped the list of $219,000 in lobbyist spending in March.

Realtors were among the special interest groups with the most to lose as Gov. Sam Brownback proposed eliminating the mortgage interest tax deduction as part of his effort to cut income taxes.

In March, the Realtors spent $60,000 on an advertising blitz to protect the mortgage deduction and $37,500 on other communications aimed at swaying lawmakers who were asked by the Republican governor to eliminate the deduction.

The Realtors’ campaign appears to have paid off to some extent.

The Legislature, dominated by Republicans, has backed away from Brownback’s proposal to eliminate the mortgage deduction in favor of phasing out nearly all types of tax deductions over several years as a way to bring in more tax revenue while continuing to reduce income tax rates.

Lawmakers’ negotiations over the House and Senate tax plans stalled before lawmakers went home for a month-long break. They’re expected to resume tax plan talks May 8.

Luke Bell, who is the Realtors’ primary lobbyist, could not be reached Wednesday afternoon.

Overall, lobbyists spent $757,353 between January, when the 2013 Legislature first convened, and the end of March. That’s up from spending during the same period in 2012, which had totaled $640,171 during those three months.

Increased spending in mass media – defined as TV, radio and newspaper ads – fueled the growth. Spending in that category climbed from $134,899 in January, February and March of last year to $301,080 during those months this year.