KCUR News
5:29 am
Tue January 12, 2010

Financial Famine Backs Lawmakers Into Corner

Topeka, Kan. –
Kansas lawmakers from both parties have registered expected reactions to the governor's proposals to hike sales taxes and cigarette taxes. Now many are conceding there is a need for tax increases of some kind.

Members of the GOP controlled legislature have begun reviewing the Democratic governor's plan to balance the budget. Most are highly critical of it, on principle. However, many influential senators also concede they don't find support needed to cut spending enough to recover a shortfall of nearly $400 million in the coming fiscal year.

Without much hesitation, key Republicans and Democrats from both chambers started talking about drawing up their own proposals. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Kevin Yoder said that some believe there is not much left to cut. The Overland Park Republican said those members conclude that taxes are the better alternative.

Governor Mark Parkinson, in his State of the State address proposed raising the state sales tax by one percent and raising the state tax on a packet of cigarettes by 55 cents. Parkinson said those measures might raise some $387 million a year. With other maneuvers, it might solve the state's upcoming budget maladies.

The sales tax rate increase surprised many legislators because fellow Democrats had been floating other possible ideas, including eliminating exemptions to the sales tax and reversing business tax breaks granted in recent years. They still did after Parkinson outlined his proposals.

In the past, Democrats have resisted increasing the sales tax rate to generate revenues, arguing the tax hits poor consumers harder than wealthy ones.