The following editorial is attributed to Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka:
In response to month after month of revenue shortfalls, Sen. Jeff King, Sen. Jim Denning, and Sen. Greg Smith are proposing legislation to change the Brownback income tax cuts approved by the 2012 Kansas Legislature.
Senate Bill 508 would adjust the income tax exemptions for partnerships, sole proprietorships, and other businesses. Original estimates indicated the exemption would be utilized by 191,000 businesses. Today, we know that more than 330,000 business owners are totally exempt from Kansas income tax. The bill would provide that 70 percent of business income would be subject to taxation.
While this bill would generate some revenue for the state, it is a fraction of what is needed to end the ongoing self-inflicted budget crisis the state is enduring. This is not a sincere solution. It is merely an attempt for these three Senators to run away from Sam Brownback’s reckless tax policies in an election year. I call it “an election year conversion.”
The highway fund has been depleted. K-12 and higher education funding slashed. Early childhood education funds raided. Correctional officers and mental health workers are understaffed and overworked. Critical services for our most vulnerable citizens are deteriorating. Sales taxes have increased, giving Kansas the highest combined state and local sales tax rate on food in the nation.
All of this damage is the direct result of actions taken by Governor Brownback’s legislative allies in pursuit of the “glide path to zero” on income taxes, including the Senators who are now trying to distance themselves from the disaster. The reality is they have no intention of actually fixing the problem. They are more concerned about getting re-elected.
Democrats fought hard against the initial tax plan because we knew the devastating effects they would have on our state. As such, I do not support temporary-fix legislation. It will take a bi-partisan coalition to develop a real solution, but that will only happen by defeating Republican legislators who have rubber-stamped the failed Brownback agenda in Topeka. Please keep that in mind when you cast your ballot in November.