One of the many low-lights of Gov. Sam Brownback’s State of the State speech this week came in his highly hypocritical comments about tax increases.
Putting on his best ultra-con, anti-tax pants, Brownback whined about the increase of local property tax rates across the state in the last 17 years.
The governor invited the Legislature to give him a measure that would put a bad bill in place even faster than now called for. Starting in two years, that current law requires voters be allowed to give an “up or down vote on any proposal that raises property taxes in excess of inflation.”
As he called this week for putting a tighter local property tax law in place even before 2018, he said, “Here, the people rule. Here, the people have a voice.”
Except ... when they don’t.
Check out the 2015 session of the Legislature.
That’s when Brownback supported a major increase in the state sales tax to raise money to balance the state budget. It was running on fiscal fumes because of the excessive income tax cuts Brownback pushed through in 2013, draining funds from the budget and away from public services.
After days of pushing and pulling and even some crying by Brownback, lawmakers in 2015 backed an increase from 6.15 percent to 6.5 percent in the sales tax.
Brownback signed it into law.
All of this happened without that precious vote of the people who “rule” and who “have a voice.”
The Legislature imposed a new burden on millions of taxpayers that will cost them hundreds of millions of dollars over time — without a vote of Kansans.
Brownback’s baloney about tax increases should be enough to sink any bill that would require local jurisdictions to seek more votes of “the people” to raise property taxes.
Last year the lawmakers whisked the original measure through in the last days of the session, barely listening to any opposition from local officials affected by it.
Those officials rightly pointed out that locally elected bodies are in great position to decide the priorities of their communities and how to pay for them. Much as the Johnson County Commission did last August in responsibly approving a higher property tax to pay for better parks, libraries and public transit — without a vote of the people.
In addition, taxing entities say they have had to raise taxes as the state kills local funding options and reduces state payments to local jurisdictions.
Brownback, alas, doesn’t care about that viewpoint.