February 24, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Tax, education issues await legislators’ return this month

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The Kansas Legislature returns on April 25th with a host of issues awaiting its attention and that of the governor.

We asked legislative leaders in tax and education issues what they expect from the session.

Caryn Tyson (R-Parker) is chair of the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee:

“Hopefully, CCR 2597 and CCR 2106 are still to be debated and voted on when legislators return.”

CCR stands for Conference Committee Report, bills passed by both House and Senate with differences in the proposed legislations worked by negotiators from each body.

Provisions in CCR 2597 include gradually removing state income tax on Social Security, reducing income tax on retirement accounts, increasing future standard deductions for inflation, removing the sales tax on commercial electric and other utilities, and up to $5,000 property tax relief for businesses shut down by the governor’s Covid mandate.

CCR 2106 would gradually reduce state sales tax on food beginning in 2023 until permanently eliminating it in 2025.

Adam Smith (R-Weskan) heads the House Committee on Taxation:

“The legislature has passed some important tax policy this (year), including important property tax relief provisions by increasing the residential exemption that hasn’t been raised in 25 years and creating a new homestead tax freeze program that will significantly benefit our seniors and allow them to stay in their homes longer even as their home valuations increase.

“Looking forward to the Veto Session, we have two tax bills that came out of conference prior to first adjournment. One deals with the state sales tax rate reduction and eventual elimination on food. There has always been strong bipartisan support for this effort, but the fiscal impact to the state budget has historically hindered any progress. There are certainly many ways in which the state could cut taxes by nearly $500M, but food sales tax seems to be the most popular at this time in the legislature, and I anticipate a vote on it fairly early in the session. The other bill out of conference makes some cuts to Kansas income tax policy, including annual increases in the standard deduction related to inflation. The instant zero-to-one-hundred tax rate of social security income, often referred to as the social security cliff, has been turned into a slope that will alleviate that surprise of higher income taxes when the threshold has been exceeded.
“All these tax policies have long been debated and are good policies, but the state legislature needs to be cautious in the amount of perpetual tax cuts that are implemented during this year of surplus. Without looking at reduced spending in the future years, substantial tax cuts could place the state budget in the red. Fiscal responsibility is critical, both in taxes and spending.”
Kristey Williams (R-Augusta) leads the House K-12 Education Budget Committee, which approved the Parents Bill of Rights, providing parents with greater oversight of their childrens’ education. Other education issues to be decided include allowing K-12 students to transfer schools based on capacity of the receiving school, allowing course credit in grades 6-12 for approved out-of-classroom activities such as a job, or work as an apprentice or in a non-profit, enhancing accountability on building needs assessments, promoting third-grade literacy, and requiring the state Department of Education to report on trends in educational achievement or learning loss.
When asked her outlook for the legislature’s return, Rep.Williams’ answer was succinct:
The legislature is scheduled to adjourn for the year on May 20th.

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