WICHITA, Kansas – Kansas offered some big time tax cuts in 2012 to bring in new jobs. But, while some new jobs are here, some lawmakers say not enough new jobs have come to Kansas bring in more money. Kansas currently has a budget hole of at least $400 million.
Now, some Republican lawmakers say it may be time to roll back those tax breaks to help Kansas get out of debt.
“We’re in the discussion stages, still,” says Republican Senate member Michael O’Donnell of Wichita. “Believe me, there are a lot of people who are in Topeka right now talking about what part of the 2012 tax breaks… What can we do.”
By some estimates, more than 300,000 Kansans do not pay certain taxes because of the tax breaks. It’s been part of the plan, led by Governor Sam Brownback, to entice business owners to expand in, and into, Kansas.
Budget director for Kansas, Shawn Sullivan, announced Kansas still needs to find $400 million to get state checkbook to zero. Some argue that figure is much higher and even approaching one billion, depending on which numbers you choose to use.
“To take a tax break, and leave it in play, while we talk about adding a gas tax or other regressive taxes is just no responsible,” says Democrat House member Jim Ward of Wichita. “We just can’t cut more.”
Gas taxes, an increase in the sales tax, and cutting personal deductions allowed on Kansas income taxes are all on the table to bring in more revenue.
“I’m not a big fan of a gas tax,” says O’Donnell. “I think it would penalize schools that use so much fuel to drive kids to school.”
But, O’Donnell says Republicans and Democrats alike are now looking at delaying some tax breaks that have been promised under the law.
“Because we have tax cuts scheduled to take place at the end of this year, starting in 2016. And then starting in 2017 and in 2018,” says O’Donnell. “So part of our revenue shortfall is we know starting next year we are going to have less money from cutting income tax more. So, the discussion is, are we going to postpone that?”
O’Donnell and others will look closely at what the Governor recommends. Sam Brownback will offer some recommendations for his take on what to do with the budget on Thursday.