Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) in January proposed a tax cut he said would give the state a “fairer, flatter, simpler” tax code, even though it raised taxes on the poor to help pay for a massive tax cut for the top one percent of state residents. Tuesday, Brownback signed an even bigger package into law, even as the state Senate’s top Republican and a host of other conservative lawmakers urged him not to.
The new package, largely backed by Tea Party-affiliated state legislators, abandoned some of Brownback’s proposals that would have hit the poor the hardest, though some still remain. But it will force lawmakers to make even deeper cuts to education and other programs to make up a growing budget gap, the Wall Street Journal reports:
The tax plan, which was the subject of weeks of intense debate and political maneuvering in the legislature, will reduce the top individual state income-tax rate to 4.9% from 6.45% in 2013. It also will eliminate income taxes on non-wage income for about 191,000 small businesses.
The plan likely would require additional cuts in spending on education and social services to cover a reduction in annual tax revenue projected by the Kansas Legislative Research Department to exceed $800 million by 2014, or 12.8% of projected state revenues.
“It is not good public policy,” state Sen. Steve Morris (R), the president of the state Senate, said of the legislation. Other Republicans agreed, including a group of 50 former Kansas Republican lawmakers who attempted to persuade Brownback to veto the bill. “I think Kansas taxpayers need to be asking where the governor would make these cuts,” said Rochelle Chronister, who formerly served as a state representative and as the president of the state GOP, said earlier this month.
Kansas’ tax code is already regressive, as the poorest 20 percent of Kansans paying more than 9 percent of their income in taxes, while the richest 1 percent pay less than 6 percent of theirs. Now, it is even more regressive, and on top of that, poor and middle class Kansans will have to deal with spending cuts that hit social programs on which they depend.