Prairie Politics

Brownback will try to raise taxes to fill budget hole, but whose taxes?

To close the state’s massive budget hole, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback will seek to raise taxes. The question is: Whose taxes?

Brownback has promised that his proposed budget, which will be unveiled the morning after the State of the State address, will be “revenue positive,” meaning there will be a surplus left over. Jon Hummel, Brownback’s chief of staff, confirmed last week that the governor’s budget proposal would include both spending cuts and changes to the tax code, which would increase revenue.

But Hummel offered few details. Those details will become public Friday morning when the governor’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, unveils the administration’s spending and tax proposals.

Brownback will likely look toward sales tax and other consumption taxes to fill the hole. “The move all along has been to move to more consumption taxes than income taxes,” the governor said Monday when asked if he would pull back from income tax cuts.

Brownback contended that moving away from income taxes spurs economic growth. But critics say this shifts the burden to the poor.

A study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released this month concluded that households making less than $20,000 in Kansas would spend 11.1 percent of their income paying state and local taxes in 2015 primarily due to the state’s reliance on sales tax. On the other hand, households making more than $177,000 are projected to spend 6 percent or less of their income on taxes.