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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Letter: A tax shift that is disguised to look like tax cut

  • Maybe you support the elimination of income tax in Kansas. However, states that have no income tax are blessed with another source of revenue to provide government services that provide a secure quality of life for citizens.
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  • To the editor:
    Maybe you support the elimination of income tax in Kansas. However, states that have no income tax are blessed with another source of revenue to provide government services that provide a secure quality of life for citizens.
    Seven states - Texas, Alaska, Wyoming, South Dakota, Florida, Washington and Nevada. Texas makes its revenue with, among other things, high property taxes. Wyoming and Alaska have the highest taxes per capita in the nation. So eliminating income taxes may only result in your tax burden increasing. Alaska, Texas and Wyoming get revenue from natural resources and Florida and Nevada benefit from tourism. One thing all these states have in common is that they spend less per capita on public programs.
    In Kansas we have a relatively small population, not much tourism, no huge gambling industry or rich natural resources. We are a small state with lots of agriculture, some oil and gas, a shrinking aviation industry.
    Our values and heritage have always been the pioneer virtues of shared responsibility, hard work, educational opportunity and building the quality of life in our communities.
    Now it appears that a shift has started. This week the Legislature goes back into session and will consider the governor's proposal to keep the increased sales tax rate that was passed during my last session as a Legislator. The people were promised that the increase in the sales tax would sunset at the end of three years, which would be this July, except for a small portion that remains to sustain the state transportation program.
    Those who propose to break this promise are doing you a disservice for several reasons. The sales tax is especially cruel to those who spend the majority of their income on food and shelter, so it should be kept low. Kansas does not exempt food from sales tax.
    Many Democrats and moderate Republicans lost their seats in the 2010 and 2012 elections due to attacks for their votes for the temporary sales tax increase. How duplicitous for those legislators to now vote to make that temporary tax increase permanent. This amounts to balancing the state budget on the backs of the working class families and the poor.
    In the past, Kansas has used the food sales tax rebate program to relieve our most economically challenged citizens who are blind, disabled, elderly or low income with young children from the unfair burden of taxes on their food and the homestead property tax rebate to relieve those folks from the burden of taxes on their homes. Unfortunately, tax year 2012 will be the last year that residents can claim the food sales tax refund on their income tax returns. The refund was repealed as income taxes and business taxes were cut last session. On top of that, the Legislature last session took away the homestead property tax rebate for all the same Kansas families and individuals if they live in a rental property and not their own home.
    Page 2 of 2 - Whether religious or not, most Kansans should be irate about what is happening here. The impact of tax policy being pushed by the leadership in the Capitol is just plain mean! We hear all the time about an attack on the middle class and the most vulnerable among us in Washington.
    Folks, what else has to happen to convince you that Kansas is moving in the wrong direction as we fail in our duty to take care of "the least of these" in our state?
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