Kansas budget – Kansas’ failed experiment in supply-side economics came to an end last week. The tax measure eliminates the fatally flawed small-business tax exemption and adds back a third tax bracket, essentially repealing most of the governor’s 2012 tax plan. The tax increase was a critical step in rebalancing the state’s budget and clarifying priorities, but it was only one step. In 2018, the Legislature should examine the state sales tax on grocery store food, with the goal of phasing it out. In return, lawmakers should continue to work on reducing or eliminating special-interest exemptions in the sales tax code. They must also repair the damage caused by years of budget shortfalls and spending cuts. That means a new focus on restoring highway construction funds, which were diverted to cover deficits.
Political posturing – While lawmakers in Topeka proved they were capable of passing a bipartisan tax bill in the 2017 session, it’s no surprise that a few of their conservative colleagues were eager to express their adamant opposition. Ideological diversity is to be expected in a deliberative body comprised of 165 members, and most of the legislators who condemned Senate Bill 30 did so without resorting to extreme rhetoric or silly, theatrical behavior. However, the same can’t be said for everyone – some conservative lawmakers were more interested in political posturing than having a substantial debate about policy.