Kansas legislature working overtime to resolve sales tax debate

Kansas Statehouse
Kansas Statehouse

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TOPEKA — State lawmakers are normally done with their legislative session by now. Instead, they will be heading back to Topeka next week to resolve the state’s tax issues.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate announced a deal Friday on a plan that would lower the state’s sales tax from its current level as well as the marginal income tax rates, but it would also lower itemized and standard deductions, potentially raising almost $856 million in state revenue.

“It’s going to be a big test for the House leadership and it’s going to be a big test for all those new freshman legislators that are just trying to figure out what to do about a problem that they never created,” said state Rep. Nile Dillmore, (D) – Wichita.

The state’s sales tax currently sits at 6.3 percent, a rate the State Senate voted to keep in place. But the House shot it down, and proposed a 6 percent sales tax rate to Senate leadership. The leadership accepted the deal Friday. With no legislative action, the sales tax would decrease to 5.7 percent, which it was for many years.

Some Wichita residents said Saturday they would like to see lower sales taxes.

“We’ve lost a lot of business due to several taxes and as a business owner I feel anything to increase our economy is a great idea,” Connie Harshbarger said.

Others are worried about the other increases needed to make up for the reduced tax revenue.

“I don’t believe that you cut from one and shove it off to the working people in the middle class,” Dennis Williams said. “That’s wrong.”

There is a sense that the House vote on Tuesday will be a close one.

“It’s not so much that they’re not in agreement that they’re going to need to raise a lot of money and raise taxes considerably, it’s just which ones and who’s going to pay them,” Dillmore said.

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