Republicans in the Kansas House said Friday, Feb. 15, 2013 they are not seeing much support for Gov. Sam Brownback's proposal to keep a sales tax that was set to expire in July.
The sales tax of less than one percent was put in place in 2010 to help the state make ends meet in an economic downturn. At the time legislators promised it would end this year.
The remarks were made by Republican leaders as they get ready to discuss the budget in earnest in the coming weeks. Republicans hold super majorities in both houses, as well as the Governor's office, so they could pass anything they like. Leaders said Friday there are many in the party who are not comfortable with the sales tax move.
Republican leaders said they are still looking for alternatives. Democrats said they too would be presenting alternative plans.
The Governor pushed through huge income tax cuts last year, and has more planned for this year in his goal to eliminate income tax altogether. This would lead to big shortfalls in the state budget. The governor's plan to balance the budget with those cuts include keeping the sales tax and eliminating deductions for mortgage interest paid.
These measures would perhaps bring in the money to make up for the loss of income tax revenues. However many legislators are reluctant to go back on a promise to the people of Kansas that the sales tax would expire this year. The sales tax would bring in a lot of revenue, but it would be three years before most people would see the benefit in the form of reduced property taxes.
By voting to keep the sales tax they would in essence be raising taxes. This puts many legislators in a bind as they have signed a no tax increase pledge that was promoted by anti-tax groups last year.