June 22, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

KPI urges Legislature to pass constitutional amendment to limit property valuation increases

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The Kansas Legislature, in its upcoming Special Session, should approve a constitutional amendment limiting the annual increases in property valuations, writes Dave Trabert, CEO of the Kansas Policy Institute (KPI), which owns The Sentinel.

Trabert believes another affordable income tax bill will be sent to Governor Kelly in the Special Session, which she will again veto without an opportunity for an override vote.  Kelly has vetoed major tax relief at least six times.

The governor has no say, however, on amending the Kansas Constitution to provide some relief to taxpayers.  A two-thirds vote in both chambers sends the proposal straight to the ballot.

 In 2023, the Senate passed SCR 1611 by a vote of 28-11 (72%), which would have limited the annual increase in valuations to 4%. The House didn’t act on it.

Many local officials continue to mislead voters, claiming to ‘hold the line’ on property taxes while using double-digit valuation increases to impose big tax hikes.  In fact, 29 counties raised property taxes more than 10% in 2022 AND 2023; another 29 counties had a double-digit valuation increase in one of those years.

Legislators react to amendment limiting valuation increases

Residential valuations jumped 28% over the last two years in Leavenworth County, and The Sentinel asked the delegation of Leavenworth County legislators for comments on the KPI proposal. Those responding:

Rep. Tim Johnson:

Photo of Rep. Johnson courtesy of Kansas Legislature

“The most important legislation our Kansas legislature must pass, is a reduction in property taxes. Our seniors, single-parent families, and the veterans must have immediate reductions in taxation and all citizens are entitled to reasonable tax burdens.

“I will support a constitutional amendment during the special session of the Kansas legislature to allow citizens to have a voice in this critical issue.

“As a senior citizen and the parent of two disabled veterans I am also co-sponsoring a pre-filed bill that failed in the waning moments of the 2024 session.  I was an original co-sponsor of that tax relief legislation.

“I am prepared to stay in Topeka until the cows come home.  Tax relief can wait no longer.”

Rep. Pat Proctor:

Rep. Proctor, courtesy of Kansas Legislature

“I have been fighting for a cap on valuations since I arrived in the Legislature four years ago, and I enthusiastically endorse the idea of considering such a constitutional amendment during the special session. The solution to Leavenworth’s–and Kansas’– property tax woes is not the LAVTR (Local Ad Valorem Tax Reduction) mirage; it is stopping local governments from balancing their ballooning budgets on the backs of homeowners by ending skyrocketing valuations.”

Rep. David Buehler:

Photo of Rep. Buehler courtesy of Kansas Legislature

“I absolutely support a constitutional amendment to limit property tax valuation increases.  We did discuss the constitutional amendment to cap the rate of increase for property taxes informally in the House Tax Committee this past session.  I was disappointed the committee did not pass the Senate proposal, and we did not have the opportunity to vote on the Senate bill on the House floor during the regular session.

“Leavenworth County property owners need tax relief, and if a constitutional amendment will jump start this process, I am in favor of it.  I am sure the House would have passed the Senate proposal.”

Rep. Lance Neelly:

Photo of Rep. Neelly courtesy of Kansas Legislature

“I am 1,000% for tax relief. Though an assessment cap sounds really good, I would vote for it only if it can be reached without replacing lost revenue on farmers’ and ranchers’ agricultural property. They are really struggling to make a living and if revenue is shifted, the weight would put many small farms and reaches out of business.

“I also don’t want to see lost revenue made up by cities and counties raising taxes on personal property, as that does nothing but shift where taxpayers write their checks.

“I am not sold this (constitutional amendment) will solve the problem of cities and counties using this as an excuse to raise mill levies.

“But, I’m willing to listen to anything that might lower taxes and give the people of the 42nd District and statewide some relief.”

A limit on assessed valuations would apply to all classes of property and prevent a tax shift to agricultural or other types of property.

Senator Tyson pushed SCR 1611 to limit valuation increases
Photo of Sen. Tyson courtesy of Kansas Legislature

Senator Caryn Tyson (R-Parker), who is Chair of the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee, was the driving force behind SCR 1611 and also endorses the constitutional amendment proposal:

“A limit on property tax valuation increases each year is an attempt to stop the current system from taxing people out of their homes. Why should your property value increase because your neighbor remodeled and sold their property for more money?”

The Kansas Legislature reconvenes for its Special Session on June 18th.

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