December 19, 2014

Legislature approves tax, budget disappointments

Somehow the Kansas Legislature managed to increase overall spending, raise taxes and cut valuable programs all at the same time.
Legislators are calling it a win, because they were able to negotiate, in the closing days of an already too-long session, a compromise. Unfortunately, the compromise is a bitter pill to swallow. There are far too many losses for everyone, and if there’s a win in there, we can’t see it.
The biggest debate was whether a 6.3 percent sales tax would be allowed to sunset to 5.7 percent as promised by the 2010 legislature.
The answer was no, not really. Instead, legislators rolled back the rate to 6.15 percent, with the future promise of dialing down income tax rates in the future.
It’s pretty obvious, based on the just-ended legislative session, just how much we can trust the Kansas Legislature to do as they promised.
If you believe your income tax rates will be lowered in future years, we’ve got a sales tax increase to sell you. It will sunset in a few years, wink, wink.
The entire thing is just embarrassing.
We’re disgusted that now legislators are trying to sell their disastrous budget as a tax decrease. No. It’s an increase over what was promised.
Meanwhile, legislators gutted the Department of Corrections, while shaving a sliver off of funding to the state’s public universities.
This makes no sense. If you’re going to increase taxes, you may as well fund critical services like keeping criminals in prison.
If you’re going to cut taxes, cut taxes and slash spending. Don’t cut taxes and slash important programs with the promise of future cuts.
As we’ve seen during this session, that doesn’t work.
We’re disappointed that legislators couldn’t find cuts in other areas. We can think of dozens of ways the state could save money. For starters, why does Kansas have nearly 300 school districts and more than 100 counties?
By consolidating services, the state could realize hundreds of thousands, if not millions in savings in overhead costs alone.
But those are the hard choices legislators appear unwilling to make. Instead, they made the easier choices while paying lip service to tax cuts.
Disappointing.

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