Property-tax shift – There seems to be no limit to how hard this Kansas Legislature, under the guiding hand of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, will work to reduce taxes for large corporate interests, even if it means shifting the state’s revenue burden to the average working family. Among the ongoing tax discussion in Topeka is a bill that would redefine commercial and industrial machinery and equipment in an effort to make such property tax-exempt. While companies would save money on their taxes, the burden to support local government and schools once again would be shifted to the average homeowner. As long as the majority of lawmakers remain eager to support any piece of “pro-business” legislation placed on their desks, average Kansans can expect a long, sustained attack on their futures and a tax policy that continues to represent all interests except theirs.
Legislation would change the definition of “fixtures” for tax purposes, and the upshot is that certain businesses will get a break on property taxes and – you guessed it! – the load likely will end up being passed on to residential homeowners, farmland and small businesses. The state budget division indicates the bill would cause a loss of nearly $583 million in assessed valuation – translating into a statewide loss of $76 million of property taxes and a loss of $11.7 million for the state budget. Where is that money going to come from? Hint: Look in the mirror, then look at your checkbook.
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Reading bill – Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City, must have been embarrassed when his bill to hold third-graders back if they did not read well was rejected by his Senate Education Committee. The bill was in tune with Gov. Sam Brownback’s State of the State message, in which he gave priority to fourth-grade reading proficiency. But the bill, which Abrams crafted, had too many of the faults we have come to associate with legislative and other initiatives of the Brownback administration. The bill was more than a bit arbitrary, less consultative than it should have been, and demonstrated distrust for the very people it was trying to help.
Winfield Daily Courier
Renewable energy – In Kansas, efforts to roll back the state’s renewable-energy standards are being led by Republican lawmakers. One of their attacks is that there’s not enough evidence to show man-made greenhouse gases are warming the Earth’s atmosphere. Actually, this is exactly what’s going on, according to a near-consensus view of the worldwide scientific community. It’s just that climate-change deniers don’t want to believe the evidence. Fortunately, the Senate and the House have turned back attempts to water down the state law, although both bills could be resurrected. Instead of attacking clean-energy laws, legislators should spend more time making sure that clean, reliable and affordable renewables make up a good-sized portion of the electricity produced.
Kansas City Star
Concealed-carry – The Kansas House is at it again. To coerce courts, cities, schools and other local units of government to allow hidden guns or to build expensive security systems is government run amok. Kansas started allowing concealed-carry permits in 2006. It seems to be working just fine. It allows private businesses and government entities to prohibit hidden guns if they so choose. Let them.
Arkansas City Traveler