Governor Brownback "State of the State": Taxes, Budget, and More ....
Governor Brownback "State of the State": Taxes, Budget, and More ...
Highlights from Bright and Carpenter Consulting, Inc., Government Affairs Consultants for the KSCPA:
- Education. The Governor called on the Legislature to redefine what the Kansas Constitution intends by “suitable” instruction for children. This comes on the heels of the court ruling on Friday stating the Legislature needs to increase funding for K-12 education in order to meet the Constitution’s definition of “suitable” education. Governor Brownback also outlined a $12 million proposal to improve the reading of fourth-graders. The program would require third-graders to demonstrate the ability to read before being promoted to the fourth grade.
- Sales tax. In his speech, the Governor stated he plans to lobby legislators to sustain the current 6.3% sales tax. The three-year increase in sales tax was scheduled to drop to 5.7% in June. Democrats and moderate Republicans have both said this evening they oppose this proposal, saying they made a promise to Kansans to return the sales tax to 5.7%. The retention of the higher sales tax could provide an additional $260 million annually to the State General Fund.
- Income taxes. A higher sales tax would allow the income tax rates to continue to decrease. Governor Brownback recommended dropping the upper state income tax rate of 4.9% to 3.5% and the lower income tax rate from 3.5% to 1.9%. His goal is to eliminate the income tax in Kansas.
- Judicial selection. Governor Brownback called on legislators to change the method of selecting members of the Kansas Court of Appeals and the Kansas Supreme Court. The current system requires a governor to select a nominee from among three finalists chosen by a committee composed primarily of lawyers. He wants to see adoption of law and a constitutional amendment placing in the governor’s hands fully responsibility for vetting and nominating Court of Appeals and Supreme Court members. The Governor also stated he would support a process that Kansas would elect members of the Kansas Supreme Court as an alternative.
- Kansas Turnpike Authority. The Governor proposed merging the Kansas Turnpike Authority into the Kansas Department of Transportation. He believes this proposal will eliminate duplication of operations.
- Additional funding. Governor Brownback also recommended funding a new crime laboratory and training facility for the state’s law enforcement officers on the campus of Washburn University. He also recommended adding funding for an additional 50 new doctors every year at a new training building at The University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City.
On Wednesday, January 16, the Governor’s Budget Director, Steve Anderson, will release the Governor’s budget. In his State of the State Address, the Governor vowed to protect funding to education and social services and provide a 7.5% ending balance. However, it is anticipated that there will be cuts. State agencies were previously told to be prepared for as much as a 10% reduction in funding. The Governor has also previously said his budget will be a two-year budget for fiscal years 2014 and 2015.