H. Edward Flentje misrepresented Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax cuts and their alleged effect on property taxes, as well as the governor’s commitment to funding our state obligations (“Tax shift harms rural Kansas,” June 22 Opinion).
Flentje asserted that “state income tax cuts are being paid for by abandoning, cutting and restricting state obligations for education, corrections, public health, libraries, social services, mental health and community arts.” He is mistaken, as most of these areas have seen significant increases in state funding since Brownback came into office in 2011, including education, community corrections, public health and mental health. Education alone has seen a total increase in state aid of $195.5 million since 2011.
It is not hard to find evidence of the increases in state education spending. According to the Kansas State Department of Education, there are 676 more teachers in classrooms across Kansas than when Brownback came into office.
Flentje failed to mention that Brownback also signed a school funding bill earlier this year that not only increased funding for K-12 education by $62.3 million but also provided $84 million in property tax relief to Kansas taxpayers.
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Brownback’s tax cuts, which have benefited Kansas taxpayers, were passed during the 2012 legislative session. Those tax cuts did not take effect until Jan. 1, 2013, and would not have any impact on local tax decisions that were made prior to that time.
It is disingenuous for Flentje to connect any tax information from 2010 and 2011 to tax cuts that had not yet even been discussed.
Flentje also failed to inform readers that property taxes have increased steadily and regardless of state income tax levels over the past 15-plus years. Property tax increases have, in fact, risen at a slower rate under Brownback than they did under the previous administration, which championed the largest tax increase in state history.
Brownback cut state income taxes while protecting vital state services. The pro-growth tax reform has resulted in more money in the pockets of Kansans to spend, save and invest as they see fit; the addition of more than 50,000 new private-sector jobs; and an unemployment rate of less than 5 percent for five consecutive months.
It is Brownback’s goal to make Kansas the best place in America to start a business and raise a family, and with his commitment to grow the economy while protecting vital services, we are on track to making that a reality.
Kansas Division of Budget