PITTSBURG, Kan. —
Gov. Sam Brownback on Thursday was in Pittsburg to seek support for his tax plan, which would lower the state income tax and remove taxes on income for nearly 200,000 small businesses.
He spoke to a standing-room-only crowd at the monthly Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce coffee, held in the City Commission room at the Pittsburg Law Enforcement Center.
“I hope you can see fit to support this tax plan,” he said.
The plan would keep in place the current 6.3 percent state sales tax, which is set to decrease to 5.7 percent in 2013, and would remove tax deductions and tax credits. The plan would lower the state’s highest income tax rate of 6.45 percent to 4.9 percent. The lowest rate would be lowered from 3.5 percent to 3 percent.
The Kansas Legislature will end a three-week recess when it returns Wednesday for a wrap-up session. Last month, the Senate passed a variation of Brownback’s plan, Senate Bill 339, after initially voting it down.
Also last month, the House approved a tax plan with parts of Brownback’s proposal, but it added the removal of the state sales tax on groceries.
Brownback said the tax plan is vital for spurring growth in the Kansas economy and the population, which, according to statistics he cited, is not keeping up with the national average.
“We haven’t grown substantially as a state in 30 years,” Brownback told the group.
In the past decade, 28 Kansas counties saw an increase in population, while 77 counties saw a decrease.
Brownback also cited statewide statistics that summarized a 10-year decline in residents in private sector jobs and the loss of income taxes to other states, as tracked by the Internal Revenue Service.
“We lose people to every surrounding state but Nebraska,” he said.
Brownback said the tax proposal would have a significant impact on small businesses, or those with 10 or fewer employees, which employ 77 percent of Kansas residents.
It would be “like shooting adrenaline to their heart,” Brownback said of the potential impact.
The tax plan would eliminate deductions for charitable giving, among other things.
Ronda Ison, director of resource development for the United Way of Southwest Missouri & Southeast Kansas, expressed concern that donors might be less likely to give if those deductions were not available.
“I don’t think people give because of deductions at the state level,” Brownback said.
Pittsburg resident Carole Robb asked how the state planned “to be able to pay teachers a living wage” if the tax proposal were enacted.
Projections show that the plan could cut $3.7 billion from the state’s budget during the next five years.
Brownback said he believes the tax plan would spur population growth, which would mean additional funding for schools. He also said the state is poised to generate revenue and spur job creation from Kansas oil fields and new manufacturing, which could replace the loss.
Pitt Plastics President Jeff Poe said he supports Brownback’s plan.
“As a business owner, I think it’s positive to find a way to reduce our tax liability,” said Poe, who also serves as chairman of the chamber board of directors.
GOV. SAM BROWNBACK also called for putting a greater focus on technical education in coming years. He said he believes that would put a greater number of residents in rural areas to work in jobs with annual salaries of at least $45,000.