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Editorial Commentary: Ken Ciboski

Ciboski: A Difficult Legislative Session Ahead

Kansas News Service/File photo

The 2017 Kansas legislative session convenes on January 9. The work of the session is expected to be demanding and difficult as the legislature hopes to reach a legislative consensus on revenue and tax policy and on what to do about a $350 million deficit for the current fiscal year. In anticipation of the difficulty in reaching a consensus, the legislature has scheduled the coming session from 90 to 100 days.

Many Kansans are looking forward with anticipation to Governor Brownback’s state-of-the-state speech on January 10 and what he will propose in meeting his promise of having a balanced budget for the coming fiscal year and for the first time in several years.

There are indications that the Republican party, with a number of newly-elected legislators and new leadership, will be more united this session in working to have a more equitable and better-balanced tax system. There are those who advocate scrapping the tax experiment that was implemented in 2012 and which has failed regularly in meeting quarterly or monthly revenue goals. This would mean putting about 300,000 pass-through businesses back on the income tax rolls. As things now stand, about 75 percent of the tax load is being provided by property and sales taxes, which are most regressive and hurt the less affluent the most. Income taxes account for about one-fourth of the tax burden, so putting those thousands of pass-through businesses back on the income tax rolls would not only help erase the $350 million deficit for this fiscal year more quickly, but would also bring more stability to revenue and tax policy in the future.