Kansas legislators prepare for compromise on sales tax increase

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Back to business.

Kansas legislators return to the statehouse Wednesday, May 8th and have a decision to make – whether or not to keep the sales tax increase, which is set to drop in less than two months.

The Senate has adopted a plan from Governor Brownback to extend the 2010 sales tax increase, which jumped from 5.7% to 6.3%. It’s currently scheduled to drop back down to 5.7% in July.

Republican State Senator Julia Lynn, of Olathe, says Brownback wants to keep the sales tax where it is to make up for his plan to eliminate personal income tax altogether.

“Extending the sales tax, a $200 million proposal, means that we don’t have to go back and make huge cuts in programs,” Lynn adds.

But members of the House want the tax to drop 6/10 of a cent as expected, and make up for the cost by spending more efficiently.

“We want to be able to reduce both the sales tax rate and the income tax rate for the people of Kansas,” says Republican State Representative Richard Carlson of St. Marys.

Since neither plan to back down completely, it all comes down to a good old-fashioned compromise.

“We need to be able to blend the two tax programs together, the two tax policies,” says Carlson, “We have a House position and we have a Senate position and we need to be able to blend those programs together for a good tax policy.”

How those policies will intertwine remains unknown, says Democratic Senate Leader Anthony Hensley.

“Conventional wisdom would tell you that if the house was at zero, the senate was at 6/10 then the obvious compromise would be 3/10, half of the 6/10,”  Hensley says, “But I’m not sure there are enough votes even among the house republicans to do that.”

Two opposite plans for one shared goal.

“That’s lowering the overall tax burden of Kansas,” Carlson says.

Also on the agenda this week, legislators will likely consider changing education policy, rewriting state liquor laws and authorizing $200 million dollars in bonds to fund NBAF in Manhattan.

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