In a statement released Sunday, the Kansas Republican Party congratulated Governor Brownback, the Senate and House leadership, and all senators and representatives on their “political courage, vision, and diligent efforts in crafting tax and budget plans.”
It finalized a $3.7 billion net tax reduction, funds the state government’s core responsibilities, and provides Kansas a strong ending balance, the statement continued. “Moreover, the Legislature passed a two-year budget, giving government agencies and schools the ability to plan ahead.”
Needless to say, not everyone sees this the same way.
“Brownback, Kansas GOP burn through $330K fighting over how best to raise Kansans taxes,” states a headline on a release issued last week by the Kansas Democratic Party.
The plan, approved last week, calls for Kansans to collectively pay $777 million more in sales and income taxes over the next five years than if lawmakers had not tinkered with tax laws. In a Legislature dominated by the conservative wing of the GOP, that made the plan a tough sell.
But the governor and company pitched the plan by saying the revenue-raising measures should have passed last year as part of a package that cut individual income taxes. Now, supporters said, the state needed additional dollars to make tax cuts work without sacrificing education funding and spending on core government programs.
Brownback also said last year’s tax cuts are worth more than $4.6 billion over the next five years. Kansans, he and his supporters said, won’t mind a little more in taxes to bring the budget under control and promised further income tax rate cuts.
Democratic leaders weren’t involved in the negotiations between Brownback and top Republican legislators that led to the final tax plan. Democrats described last year’s tax cuts as reckless and have criticized the GOP’s efforts to shift the burden of funding state government mostly to the sales tax as unfair to poor and middle-class families.
This is the problem with politics. The truth gets caught up in all the spin.
The bottom line is this – Kansans will be paying more in taxes. It seems funny that a tax plan that raises taxes is shoved down the throats of lawmakers by a party that prides itself on frugality. This same party claims to believe in smaller government and, in the past, would espouse the state cut spending first before resorting to increasing the revenue.
Perhaps this is a sign of a fragmented GOP in the Sunflower State. There are Republican legislators who once considered themselves conservatives who are now finding themselves to be viewed as moderates or liberals.
It is unfortunate that this rancorous intra-party bickering stalled the 2013 session as it did. Politics does, indeed, make for strange bedfellows.