Kansas House speaker opposes tobacco, alcohol tax increases

Kansas Public Pensions
Alan Conroy, Shawn Sullivan (AP Photo/John Hanna)

TOPEKA, Kansas (AP) — Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick says he opposes Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposals to increase tobacco and alcohol taxes to help close a projected budget shortfall.

Merrick said Wednesday that he opposes all tax increases. The Stilwell Republican added that lawmakers should look to trim spending first before they consider higher taxes.

The speaker made his comments as the House Taxation Committee opened two days of hearings on a bill containing the governor’s proposals. They’re a key part of Brownback’s plan for eliminating a projected shortfall of nearly $600 million in the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

The bill would boost the cigarette tax to $2.29 a pack from 79 cents and raise the tax on alcoholic beverages to 12 percent from 8 percent.

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