Brownback voices support for proposed flat tax in KS


TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas Senate committee has approved a bill for moving the state to a single personal income tax rate while raising new revenue to fix budget problems.

Senate Bill 325, which increases the standard deduction and decreases the tax rate for all taxpayers, also makes changes in the child tax deduction that Senate leaders say will benefit middle-class and lower-income taxpayers the most.

It would also lower the state sales tax rate on food purchases by one percentage point, to 5.5 percent.

The Senate committee's plan adopts the current top rate of 4.6 percent for all.

Senate Bill 325, titled "Billion Dollar Middle Class Tax Cut", is expected to get a final vote on Wednesday and head to the House, where Republicans have proposed a less sweeping package of tax cuts. Kansas faces budget shortfalls totaling more than $1 billion.

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Pilar used a 5-percent figure the House is working with, a slightly higher figure than what's being discussed in the senate.

Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said the version of the flat tax offered by the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee should be viewed as "dead on arrival".

The Social Security tax cuts come from broader income tax plans. "A flat tax accomplishes this goal by making taxes fair for everyone and encouraging economic growth". President Susan Wagle read aloud from her phone to caucus members.

Hensley indicated a Democratic tax bill - with a three-bracket system and an LLC loophole repeal - remains alive on the Senate floor, though it received few votes.

GOP legislative leaders say they are taking a first step that could lead to eliminating income taxes on Social Security payments all together. "If the legislature sends a bill to my desk similar in nature to SB 214, I will sign it". She said the objective was to identify a package that would receive the minimum 21 votes in the Senate and 63 votes in the House for passage - and avoid a Brownback veto.

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In February, Brownback vetoed an income tax increase bill that would have created a third tax bracket.

Drazkowski said the 2017 bill is "step one of a two-step process", to be followed by eliminating all school construction levies from farmland. Eyewitness News reporter Pilar Pedraza did the math, figuring out the percent increase in taxes for someone who makes $30,000 a year and someone who makes $150,000 a year.

Speaking after the meeting, Denning said the negotiating procedure is not uncommon, and the governor deserves an opportunity to present his idea.

"We are the Kansas Senate - we have to come to agreement with the Kansas House", Wagle said.

A state Revenue Estimating Conference analysis projects the measure backed Monday by the Senate Community Affairs Committee will cut state and local government revenue by $125.9 million in the next fiscal year, with the savings to business owners growing to $302.2 million on a year-to-year basis. "The poor people don't have enough money to fund the obligations and responsibilities of the state no matter how you raise their taxes".

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Senators' legislation cuts income taxes $393 million in much the same way as the House, but at generally lower amounts.