Senior Director of State Policy Initiatives
Kansas lawmakers are moving forward with a costly plan to make deep cuts to income taxes — with the biggest benefits going to wealthy individuals and profitable corporations — and to help pay for it with higher taxes on the working poor. The plan also could very well lead to more cuts to an already underfunded school system.
The plan, which a House-Senate conference committee approved last week, would:
Proponents say the tax cut is a job-creation measure aimed primarily at small businesses. But, as our analysis shows, small, fast-growing businesses — those most likely to create jobs — likely would see very little benefit. A big share of the total profit that would become tax-exempt goes either to large pass-through businesses or to wealthy owners of large investment funds and other businesses that have few if any employees besides the owners.
The plan would also slash the top two individual income tax rates.
The plan could cost hundreds of millions of dollars when fully implemented, creating pressure for more cuts in funding for schools and other public services. Kansas has made some of the deepest cuts in the nation to its K-12 education system since the recession hit; per-pupil funding fell by $689 (12 percent) between 2008 and 2012.
Forty-six Republican former lawmakers in the state have formed a group called Traditional Republicans for Common Sense to call for more thoughtful policy approaches. As one of them put it, “we have a moral obligation to the citizens of this state. If we want to ensure our long-term success, then we cannot mortgage our children’s future. Every farmer will tell you that you reap what you sow.”