Mary Clarkin
April 26, 2016

Groups representing the interests of contractors, teachers, public employees and children are uniting to urge the Kansas Legislature to revisit the Brownback administration’s tax policies of 2012 and 2013.

One hour before the Legislature begins its wrap-up session at 10 a.m. today, participants in a joint press conference in Topeka will urge an “option four” alternative to Gov. Sam Brownback’s three options to address the revenue shortfall.

There is an attempt by the governor to pit one group against another as he proposes revenue cuts, according to Annie McKay, executive director for the Kansas Center for Economic Growth.

The center reached out to groups “in the crosshairs of the governor’s three budget proposals,” McKay said.

The Kansas Center for Economic Growth is hosting the press conference, and participants will include: the Kansas Contractors Association, the Kansas-National Education Association, the Kansas Organization of State Employees and the Kansas Action for Children.

Brownback proposed three options that contained a mix of cuts. Included in one or more of the options: postponing the state’s payment to the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System; continuing a cut to higher education funding; sweeping more from the Kansas Department of Transportation; selling off future payments of the tobacco settlement dollars that help children’s programs and losing some future revenue because of the maneuver; lowering funding to state agencies, including cutting K-12 school aid.

The administration does not favor raising or re-imposing income taxes.

McKay said option four is not seeking simply for restoration of income taxes on the 330,000 taxpayers exempt from income taxes because of the 2012 cuts. That bill also altered income tax rates for others and led, Brownback critics say, to revenue shortfalls, sales tax hikes and the removal of tax breaks for some lower-income groups.

The Kansas Center for Economic Growth, which includes former state budget director Duane Goossen, wants a comprehensive change of “failed” 2012 and 2013 tax policies.

A number of groups have been urging their supporters to contact the Legislature as it meets for the wrap-up session.

Women for Kansas, which also has criticized Brownback administration fiscal policies, called on its backers to send emails to their legislators “as close as possible” to 8 a.m. today, so legislators would see the emails before the 10 a.m. start of the session.

Betty Taylor, the Democratic co-chairwoman of the Hutchinson chapter of Women for Kansas – the other co-chairwoman is a Republican – sounded dubious Tuesday the emails would change legislators’ minds.

But, she said, “We have to let our voices be heard.”

Read more from the Hutchinson News here.

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