Yael T. Abouhalkah

Yael T. Abouhalkah spells out Kansas’ sales tax sticker shock on food (updated)

A new study says some Kansans are crossing the state line to shop for groceries. That makes sense, especially in the Kansas City area.

As I explain in a video, the Sunflower State’s sales tax on food is 6.5 percent. That’s especially a burden on low-income residents.

But the state tax on food is only 1.225 percent in Missouri, and it’s been that way for years.

Plenty of Kansans want Gov. Sam Brownback and the Legislature to lower the state sales tax on groceries. But last week, the House and Senate passed preliminary budgets that did not do that.

That’s because the state is basically broke. It desperately needs all the money it can get its hands on after the Legislature approved Brownback’s reckless and costly income tax cuts in 2012. That move has cost the state treasury hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues over the last three years.

The Legislature last year even increased the sales tax on food and all other items, from 6.15 percent to 6.5 percent.

However, lo and behold, look what happened Tuesday.

A group of 12 Kansas senators introduced a bill that would call for a public vote this year to drop the state sales tax on food to 4 percent in July 2017, 2 percent in July 2018 and to zero in July 2019.

Sen. Tom Holland, a Baldwin City Democrat, is a co-sponsor.

“I’m very committed to getting it pushed through this year,” he said in an interview Wednesday.

As Holland knows, getting rid of the tax would blow another hole in the state budget — one he estimated at up to $350 million a year if the food levy goes away.

Holland says that would just put more pressure on the Legislature to finally fix the budget woes created by Brownback and his allies, especially with the income tax cuts.

If the bill gets on the ballot, it would change the state Constitution to phase out the food tax.

Since Kansans didn’t get a chance to weigh in on the sales tax increase of last year, they certainly could appreciate being given the opportunity to weigh in on something that would lower their taxes.