Governor Laura Kelly today lauded the successful start of a bipartisan, in-depth study of the state’s tax system.
The Governor’s Council on Tax Reform, which will make specific statutory recommendations to state lawmakers, met for the first time Tuesday and Wednesday in the Capitol.
The meeting began with an overview of state tax policy changes since 2012 and continued with presentations on the current status of revenue, economic development, transportation and labor in Kansas; sales tax requirements; and an overview of property taxes.
“The information helped establish a solid foundation for Council members as they study strategies for tax reform,” Governor Kelly said. “While Kansas continues to recover from the failed Brownback-Colyer tax experiment – and with economic uncertainty in mind – we need to find balance in tax fairness and stability. I expect the Council to deliver recommendations for reform that benefits all Kansans.
“Even with the fiscal fallout we inherited, I presented a balanced budget this past session without increasing taxes – as promised, and we still were able to start rebuilding our foster-care system, infrastructure and other critical programs,” the governor said. “I’ve assembled a Council with wide-ranging expertise needed to address lingering budgetary challenges and make recommendations on ways to keep moving forward in providing services Kansans need and expect.”
The co-chairs of the bipartisan Council reiterated the importance of keeping the tax burden as low as possible.
“As the governor has said, it’s important to proceed with caution,” co-chair Steve Morris, a Republican and former Senate president, said. “While Kansas continues to recover, we must make sure the tax code can support important public investment in core services such as public safety and infrastructure, but without any undue burden on taxpayers.”
Co-chair Janis Lee, a former state senator who was ranking Democrat on the Senate’s tax committee and a chief hearing officer for the Kansas Court of Tax Appeals, agreed. “Poor policymaking by the previous administration put Kansas in the hole. We cannot repeat the mistakes that led to a self-inflicted budget crisis as we pursue commonsense tax reform beneficial to all Kansans.”
Among issues cited during the initial Council meeting:
- Sales taxes are high and complicated, with a number of inconsistencies.
- High property taxes, a situation worsened by shrinking state support.
- The economic health of the state relies on business and population growth, making it imperative to pursue quality-of-life improvements that require stable revenue.
Future meetings of the Council in 2019 are set for Oct. 15-16, Nov. 14 and Dec. 3-4. An interim report by the Council is planned for December 2019, in advance of the 2020 legislative session. A final report is due in December 2020, in advance of the 2021 legislative session.
For more on Governor Kelly’s executive order establishing the Council and its membership: https://governor.kansas.gov/governor-kelly-issues-executive-order-launching-governors-council-on-tax-reform/