Good afternoon. Thank you, Amanda, for that introduction, and thanks to Tom and his team here at Hillcrest Clothing Bank for hosting this event.
Hillcrest is a terrific organization that provides homeless families and individuals with transitional housing – as well as affordable ways for Kansans to shop for necessities like clothing and furniture, which is what we’re seeing today.
I’m here at Hillcrest this afternoon because, as many of you know, last month, I released the text of three bills that make up my comprehensive tax cut plan. We’re calling it the “Axing Your Taxes” plan – because we’re cutting taxes to benefit working families and seniors.
I want to highlight how this three-part tax cut plan will provide relief for every Kansan, and especially our Kansans most in need.
Part one of my proposal delivers on my campaign promise to completely axe the food sales tax—and to do so as soon as possible.
This past May, I signed a law to eliminate the food tax gradually over the course of the next few years. I was proud of that bill, and of the bipartisan support, we were able to garner for it. But it didn’t go far enough, or fast enough. Kansans still need more relief.
The cost of groceries is too high, plain and simple.
Historically, the grocery tax in Kansas has been one of the highest in the country. That has never made sense.
Having the highest taxes is a competition Kansas should never win. That’s especially true when it comes to taxes that make necessities harder to afford – and that exacerbate food insecurity in communities just like this one.
Too often, people are forced to choose between buying healthy food and paying for the basics.
Having a high grocery tax makes food insecurity all the worse. It results in lower-income Kansans spending a higher share of their income on groceries than wealthier Kansans.
Here’s what that means: The food sales tax takes the most from those who have the least. And it’s unacceptable.
With this bill, we will axe the food tax completely and immediately.
And not just that – we are also expanding this relief to include other essential items like diapers and feminine hygiene products.
A tax cut on diapers and feminine hygiene products wasn’t in the bill we passed in May, but it needs to be in this upcoming bill. They’re basic necessities, and we should do everything we can to help Kansans afford them.
Axing the tax on diapers and other necessities will save Kansans more than $20 million over the next three years.
It will also do wonders for nonprofits like Hillcrest, which accepts donations of basic necessities to share with their residents.
In short, this type of legislation is a fiscally responsible way to address a problem that affects everyone across the state in a way that helps everyone across the state.
The second bill in the “Axing Your Taxes” plan proposes a sales tax holiday on school supplies. When signed into law, this bill will create a four-day window every August, beginning this year, when Kansas families can purchase school supplies tax-free.
For parents throughout the state, this will make preparing for back to school more affordable. Shopping for school supplies can be tough. The supply list is long, the expenses add up. Kids always seem to outgrow their school clothes before you’ve cut the tags off.
This bill will alleviate some of the stress facing parents every August, but more than that, it will help distribution services like those offered here at the Hillcrest Clothing Bank.
And, since we’re here, let me touch on the third bill, which concerns taxes paid on social security.
Right now, Kansas retirees making less than $75,000 per year do not pay state income tax on social security income. But once they earn a dollar more – whether that’s through investments or a life insurance policy – the entirety of their social security income is subject to state tax.
It’s bad policy to have such a cliff, and it’s not good for our retirees.
This bill raises the threshold to $100,000 and eliminates the cliff. It will save our seniors more than $50 million over the next three years.
I’m proud that, since I’ve been in office, we’ve cut property taxes. We’ve cut taxes for veterans. We’ve cut taxes on agriculture equipment. We’re cutting the food tax.
I’m even prouder that we achieved these cuts on a bipartisan basis, by coming together as Democrats and Republicans to deliver major, commonsense tax reform.
Now, we want to build on that progress by cutting taxes on school supplies and retirement income. Over the next three years, those cuts are going to add up to more than $500 million for Kansas families, nonprofits, and businesses.
The “Axing Your Taxes” plan delivers responsible relief, right now. Again, we will need bipartisan support.
I am calling on legislators of both parties to support these bills and provide practical financial relief to families and retirees across our great state.
And I urge Kansans to let their state legislators know that they support the bills, too.