This week Kansas Revenue Secretary, Nick Jordan, said that by the end of the year Governor Sam Brownback will have recommendations for how to reform the state’s tax structure. He said, “We're looking at tax policy in a very comprehensive way. We're not just focusing on business or individual incomes, I don't know that we are targeting numbers. We're targeting what is the best economic growth policy for the state." This statement, combined with other media reports that the governor is working with supply side guru, Arthur Laffer, and that the governor seeks to reduce and eventually eliminate income tax rates, should cause grave concern for Kansas taxpayers.
In anticipation of the governor’s tax proposals, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) recently issued a memo to media outlets in Kansas. ITEP’s analysis shows the impact of repealing the Kansas income tax and replacing part or all of the revenue with increased sales taxes. For example, if every dime of an income tax repeal were ultimately paid for by increases in state sales taxes, the poorest 80 percent of Kansans would, as a group, see a tax hike overall and require a statewide average sales tax rate of a whopping13.5 percent.
Governor Brownback recently told the Kansas Chamber of Commerce that in terms of low taxes and regulation, “We’ve got to look more like Texas and a lot less like California.”
But Kansas shouldn’t want to look more like Texas! The Texas tax structure doesn’t have an income tax, making it the fifth most regressive in the country and chronically unable to fund public investments. Texas ranks 45th in SAT Scores and 50th in terms of the percent of the population with a high school diploma. Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured citizens, and the second highest percentage of the population experiencing food insecurity in the nation.
We will keep an eye on the governor’s plans for Kansas, but if he’s looking for a state on which to model his tax reforms, he should take a look at Connecticut.
Photo of Sam Brownback via KDOTHQ Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0