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Kansas House Unveils New Tax Proposal

Stephen Koranda
KPR/File photo

Tax negotiators from the Kansas House have presented a new agreement that they hope can pass the chamber and move the Legislature towards ending the 2015 session.

The proposal is close to a plan already approved by the Senate. It relies mostly on increasing the sales tax and eliminating tax deductions to balance the budget.

The House’s plan does adjust some controversial policy pieces in the Senate bill, including softening a cap on local property tax increases.

House members who had been fighting to reverse business tax cuts also appear to have given up the battle for this session. Republican Rep. Mark Hutton, one of the lead lawmakers pushing for a change in business taxes, says he will support the new proposal.

“We’ve kind of hit a tipping point where if we keep pursing this, we’re going to hurt the people of Kansas, the very people we were working hard to get some equity to and some parity for,” Hutton says.

Democratic state Representative Tom Sawyer calls it “extremely unfair” to increase the sales tax while allowing thousands of business owners to continue paying zero state income tax.
If lawmakers don’t come to a tax agreement, there would be around $400 million in spending cuts needed to balance the state budget.

It’s still not clear there will be the needed 63 votes to pass the new tax proposal in the House.