Critics: Kansas income tax cuts come with a catch

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The largest tax cut proposal in the history of Kansas will impact nearly every person in the state.
     
Kansas lawmakers are close to moving the mammoth income and property tax cut bill out of committee and onto the Senate floor for debate.

Under Gov. Sam Brownback's plan, the Department of Revenue said every single Kansas taxpayer would see a decrease in their state income tax by 14 to 23 percent.
      
Property taxes would go down, too. Those details still have to be negotiated.

Both kinds of cuts would mean more money in your pocket each month.

However, critics have said the $2.2 billion the state of Kansas would lose has to be made up somewhere.

Last week, Gov. Sam Brownback congratulated one of the founders of the multi-billion dollar, Missouri-based business Cerner for recently starting construction in Wyandotte County.

He said it was also a congratulations to Kansas.
     
Brownback said the move is proof aggressive tax cuts work.

"You have to have incentives nowadays to be competitive," Brownback said from the grounds of the new Cerner $190 million complex. "It is a very competitive job market."

The Governor said more businesses like Cerner will move to Kansas if the state will eventually cut nonwage income taxes for LLC and S-corporations and lower income tax rates for every taxpaying Kansan.

The tax would be eliminated for an estimated 190,000 Kansas businesses by 2017.

Taxpayers earning less than $30,000 a year would pay 3 percent. Those earning more would pay 4.9 percent.
    
The Department of Revenue estimated a family who makes $65,430 a year, files jointly with one child, would save on average $425.43 annually.
    
The Governor said his proposal is reasonable because the more money a family has in its pocket, the more money those family members will spend. Also, the more an employer has, the more likely it will expand or make a move to Kansas.

"You gotta go out and hustle and that's why [Kansas] moved from 51st in job creation, we were dead last a year ago, and went to 13th," Brownback said.

However, critics argue there cuts in the billions of dollars have a downside.

Senator David Haley said many people will pay more to fill the $2.2 billion loss.

Haley, a democrat from KCK, put it simply.

"The rich get richer and the poor get poorer," he said.

Under the current proposal, the poorest residents would no longer be able to qualify for some tax credits, for instance for child care.

Critics also worry how the state will make up for the millions of dollars already cut to social services and K-12 education.

"This is about enabling those who have greater income to retain more of their income and about those who make less income having to pay more," Haley said.

But the Governor defended the policy by saying the only loss may be to those nearby states that lose business to a friendlier Kansas.

When asked if he considered that poaching business from other states, Brownback gave no apologies.

"I'm gonna grow any way we can," He said.
     
Brownback said surrounding states with lower income taxes have lured Kansas businesses and families away for 30 years.

Still by Monday night, not all lawmakers were convinced. The tax cut proposal still had yet to make it out of committee.

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