KSHB-TV 41 News mischaracterized a bill that would mark the largest tax increase in Kansas history. The anchor suggests at the outset of the television story that the tax increase bill simply rolls back the LLC-exemption for small businesses.
The legislation does much more than that; It raises income taxes on married couples earning more than $30,000 and on individuals making more than $15,000. Those taxpayers come awfully close to qualifying for charitable assistance. A couple earning $29,637 would meet income requirements for many rental and utility assistance programs, including the United Way’s rent assistance program.
“Those LLC tax breaks for small businesses are gone. Those are marquee to Gov. Brownback’s policy,” the reporter says leading into the story. It’s an odd way to describe the largest tax increase in Kansas history–especially since the LLC-tax exemption will raise less revenue than the income tax increase on the poor and middle class.
The story fails to quote any of the 48 legislators who voted against the tax increase, choosing instead to quote from Gov. Sam Brownback’s Twitter feed.
“These representatives pledged to raise taxes on the wealthy, but their plan taxes everyday Kansans. It doesn’t have to be this way,” Brownback’s tweet reads.
These representatives pledged to raise taxes on the wealthy, but their plan taxes everyday Kansans. It doesn't have to be this way. #ksleg
— Sam Brownback (@govsambrownback) February 15, 2017
Few politicians campaign on raising taxes on the poorest Kansans, but several of the legislators who voted for the tax increase frequently railed against tax increases in the past.
For example, Rep. Sean Tarwater, a freshman legislator from Stillwell, campaigned on fighting for taxpayers.
“He will focus on protecting our tax dollars by finding efficiencies and work to create jobs,” his campaign website reads. “At the state level, revenue comes from adding jobs, increasing consumer spending, or increasing taxes.” He noted that Kansas increased taxes in 2015.
“…We are still falling short,” the site reads.
Brian Abel, the KSHB-TV reporter, says the House tax plan “fills the budget hole,” but that’s not accurate. The tax bill doesn’t touch the budget hole for this fiscal year. That budget hole may be evaporating as state revenues outpaced estimates two of the last three months. February’s revenue numbers will be available the first week of March. Of course, Abel makes no mention of the improved budget picture.
“This is what the people want. That is what happened today,” Rep. Stephanie Clayton, an Overland Park Republican tells the reporter. Clayton’s opinion is in stark contrast to a Kansas Policy Institute poll that recently revealed only 4 percent of Kansans support increasing income tax rates to balance the state budget.
Two-thirds of the way through the KSHB-TV story, Abel finally mentions the legislation increases taxes on those earning between $30,000 and $60,000. Any Kansan who solely relies on KSHB-TV 41 for statehouse news is horribly misinformed. It may be time to change the channel.
The Senate is expected to discuss the bill this morning, Feb. 17. Brownback says he will not sign the legislation if it reaches his desk. Legislators voted 76-48, seven votes shy of veto proof, to pass the tax increase. The photo below shows how each voted.