Here is what some Kansans had to say about Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to make sweeping changes in the state’s tax code. Brownback proposes to cut individual income tax rates and eliminate most income tax for small-business owners. But he also would eliminate itemized deductions, do away with nearly two dozen tax credits and make permanent the temporary increase in the state sales tax..
Crystal McComas, a co-founder of Kansans United in Voice and Spirit, which says it is a nonpartisan group working to advocate for state services and programs:
“What stood out for me was, he talked about eliminating tax credits and tax deductions in order to pay for this, and prior to the speech his office released some of those eliminations and one is the Earned Income Credit.
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“Eliminating the Earned Income Credit will have a devastating impact on working families. There is not a more proven anti-poverty measure than the EIC.”
Brownback also would eliminate adoption and child day care assistance credits.
“It begs the question, what tax credits and what tax breaks are going to be taken away from upper-income-tax families? It will be interesting to see.”
Brad Elliott, chief executive of Equity Bank:
“I think that Kansas would benefit greatly long-term from a lot of those tax strategies. If you look at the other states that have done that, they’re the ones that have thrived through this recession.”
Gary Hardman, president of small business Hardman Benefit Plans:
“The proposal is very pro-economics, increasing the outlook of how we operate the economy in the future, putting forth much more conservative economic policies, which can only benefit everybody.
“But as we make that transition, we’ve got to be very careful to provide adequate funding to our schools and a safety net ...
“As a businessman, if we’re not paying as much in state taxes, it helps to hire more employees to grow our business.”
Pete Schrepferman, owner of small business Johnstone Supply and head of the Wichita Independent Business Association’s governmental affairs committee:
“There’s been talk of eliminating them all (individual state income taxes). I don’t know if it’ll ever make it to that. I think they’ve studied this pretty carefully. I suspect that’s about as much as it could be reduced at the present time, with all the other government expenses and factors involved.”
“For small businesses, it doesn’t matter how you’re structured, the taxes all flow down to your personal income taxes. That’s the big factor for our membership.
Bernie Koch, executive director of the Kansas Economic Progress Council, which represents businesses, trade associations, local chambers of commerce and economic developers:
“The devil is in the details and I think everybody’s going to wait for the details.
“In general, we’ve always said when you reduce income taxes you put pressure on property taxes and sales taxes. It might depend on what it would be. It’s kind of intriguing. I’m not quite sure what he has in mind.
“He talked about eliminating exemptions, and that kind of worries me. A new study (for Arkansas) looks at states in the region, including Kansas, and one of conclusions is that Missouri is very competitive in the region because of the tax credits. If he talks about eliminating the tax credits on corporations, that could be kind of troublesome for economic developers. We compete regionally and if we eliminate those tax credits, I wonder if that limits our ability to compete with Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.”
Michael Shatz, an organizer with Occupy Wichita:
“Cutting taxes to trigger economic growth does not work. We’ve seen this under George W. Bush and Obama. They work out great for the corporate CEOs. But as far as jobs coming in, it’s not happening. Brownback is following the American Legislative Exchange Council model, which wants to cut services to the most vulnerable.
“We’re also concerned about the lack of transparency with all the closed-door meetings Brownback has had with legislators and business people in formulating these reforms.”
Derrick Sontag, Americans for Prosperity-Kansas state director:
“We applaud the Governor for proposing a budget that reduces State General Fund (SGF) spending and calls for limiting spending growth to no more than 2 percent each year. It’s important that we continue to work toward reining in state spending to ensure our expenditures do not exceed tax revenues.
“Aside from placing a firm grasp on state spending we must also examine the state’s tax structure, looking for ways to spur economic activity through lower taxes. Kansas is in desperate need of economic growth, and we believe reducing individual income taxes and leveling the playing field for all businesses will be key to economic relief for everyone.”
Allyn Lockner, an economist who worked on tax policy in South Dakota and now sits on the Kansas Advisory Council on Intergovernmental Relations:
He said he doesn’t know of any independent tax studies that show income tax cuts will lead businesses to create jobs or expand.
“(Brownback’s) tax plan is based on the assumption that Kansans will take their additional reduction in taxes and spend it or invest it in Kansas. Now that is a major assumption.”