Gov. Kelly condemns flat tax proposal, touts plan to cut taxes on groceries and other supplies
Governor: Plan could prove even more damaging to state than Brownback ‘experiment’
Gov. Kelly asked Kansans to rally around her tax cut plan, saying lawmakers needed to be aware of public support for the initiatives. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)
TOPEKA — Following the unveiling of a flat tax proposal that would cost the state $1.5 billion, Gov. Laura Kelly once again rallied Kansans to her tax cut plan, saying any bill passed this legislative session needs to be fiscally responsible.
Kelly joined a Tuesday Zoom meeting hosted by the Kansas Appleseed’s Hunger Action Team to promote her “Axing Your Taxes” plan, telling state residents on the call to talk to their legislators, hold town meetings and approach lawmakers without a political angle when discussing tax cuts.
“I think one thing I would do, would not be to approach your legislator as the enemy and somebody on the other side,” Kelly said. “Rather, approach them as a constituent with a concern and issue and leave the politics out of it. Because this just shouldn’t be political. This really is just something for the people.”
Jami Reever, executive director of the Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, echoed Kelly’s call for direct action.
“We know that this just isn’t a local issue,” Reever said. “This is a statewide issue. And it’s going to take all of us to get this work done.”
Kelly’s plan, which she has consistently advocated, includes cutting taxes on groceries, feminine hygiene products and diapers. She also supports creating a four-day sales tax holiday for back-to-school supplies and changing the threshold for social security income taxes, raising it from $75,000 to $100,000.
Currently, any Kansas retiree earning more than $75,000 has their entire Social Security income subject to state income tax.
Kelly and the Legislature agreed on a plan to gradually phase out the state’s 6.5% state sales tax on groceries in 2022, with the goal of completely removing the tax by January 2025. With a surplus and consistent revenue coming into the state, Kelly said there’s no reason not to immediately remove the food tax, which is currently at 4%.
“Last year, I signed a bill that axed the food tax,” Kelly said. “But it didn’t go far enough, nor did it go fast enough. So I’m hoping that this year you all can convince the legislature to just go right ahead and ax the food sales tax. Add diapers and feminine hygiene products to that list and just ax it all the way and do it right away.”
Kelly has seen opposition from the Legislature to her plan, but she said she will continue to advocate for responsible tax cuts. During the meeting, she mentioned the Kansas Chamber’s recently introduced flat tax proposal, comparing the plan to former Gov. Sam Brownback’s disastrous tax policies.
“There’s actually a proposal out there that would do more damage more quickly than the Brownback tax experiment of 2012 and 2013,” Kelly said.
Assessments of the plan by an independent tax policy institute found that the plan would benefit the state’s top earners. The plan would set the individual income tax rate at 5% for annual income above $15,000 and cut surtax rates for bank, trusts, and savings and loan associations by more than 50%, along with other provisions.
Kelly said the proposal would defund other programs, such as new transportation initiatives.
“Once you start making those kinds of cuts, you have to start cutting services,” she said.
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