Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle and Republican candidates for that chamber have released a series of policy proposals, which include the possibility of amending tax cuts made in recent years.

The plan includes overarching themes on topics such as balancing the budget, writing a new school funding formula and creating fairness in the tax code.

Wagle is working to harness voter frustration with the Legislature and the budget. She's laying out a message aimed squarely at those Kansans.

Aranami - Flickr CC

On November 8,  Missouri voters will decide on a number of ballot questions, the most controversial being a photo voter ID amendment and a pair of cigarette taxes. 

But a far less attention-grabbing question is a measure that could affect sales taxes on services. 

Constitutional Amendment 4 would ban sales and use taxes on any service that was not already being taxed as of Jan. 1, 2015.

Jim McLean
KHI News Service

Kansas received more bad financial news on Monday when the state said tax collections in September missed projections by $45 million.

Since the new fiscal year started July 1, Kansas has collected $68 million less than expected.

But one state House leader is trying to put a good face on a bleak picture.

In an email to colleagues Sunday, Rep. Ron Ryckman, the conservative House budget chairman from Olathe, said lawmakers are facing "challenging times." But "we should not forget the groundwork that has been laid to begin improving the fiscal outlook," he wrote.

Susie Fagan / KHI News Service

Former Democratic Gov. John Carlin and former Republican House Speaker Mike O’Neal have starkly different views on the condition of Kansas government. That divergence was plain as the two met in Topeka Thursday for a discussion about the size of government recorded for KCUR’s Statehouse Blend Kansas podcast.


O’Neal and Carlin agree on one thing -- that they don’t know exactly what the “right size” of state government is.


Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

On this week's episode of Statehouse Blend, Kansas Rep. Stephanie Clayton (R-Overland Park) talks about presidential politics, schools, and tax policy.


Meet Democrats Bill Hutton and Don Terrien competing to oust incumbent Republican Senator Steve Fitzgerald to represent Kansas Senate District 5.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

  On this week's episode of Statehouse Blend, Kansas Rep. Stephanie Clayton (R-Overland Park) talks about presidential politics, schools, and tax policy.


Updated July 26 with new lawsuit filings – Opponents of a ballot initiative to raise Missouri's cigarette tax have filed two new lawsuits designed to stop it from appearing on the November ballot.

The first new suit was filed Friday by Joplin convenience store owner Patty Arrowood.  She contends that the ballot initiative would appropriate state funding, which only the legislature can do, and also allow religious groups to receive state revenues.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has signed legislation stepping up oversight of the state’s 360 Community Improvement Districts.

“When residents vote to improve their communities through local taxing districts, they expect those districts to be held accountable and follow the law,” Nixon said Wednesday in Kansas City. “They need a watchdog, and that watchdog needs to have teeth.”

The bill Nixon signed makes that watchdog State Auditor Nicole Galloway. Before, Galloway could only audit a CID if a citizen petition requested it.

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

Kansas tax collections for May fell short of projections by about $74 million, and legislators said Wednesday they fear that will mean more cuts to Medicaid.

The May shortfall comes despite the state’s revenue estimating group revising projections downward for the third consecutive time about six weeks ago.

It wipes out the meager savings Gov. Sam Brownback created when he made cuts two weeks ago after the Legislature sent him a budget that didn’t balance.

Courtesy North Kansas City Schools

North Kansas City Schools Board of Education will ask voters in August to approve a $114 million bond issue to improve overcrowded and aging schools.

If approved, rates for taxpayers will remain the same, and North Kansas City Schools will construct two new elementary schools and renovate the 90-year-old North Kansas City High School. 

The district is one of the largest in the metro with nearly 20,000 students.

Conservative Republican Sen. Forrest Knox faces voters in Gridley, Kansas.
Jim McLean / KHI News Service

The 2016 election could be a tough one for some Kansas lawmakers hoping to return to the Statehouse.

Polls, editorials and reader comments on news websites indicate that voters are paying attention to what’s happening in Topeka, and many don’t like what they’re seeing.

Both top KU coaches, David Beaty (left) and Bill Self, have LLCs that reduce the amount they owe in Kansas income taxes.
KCUR 89.3/CC

Among the nearly 334,000 Kansas businesses that owe no state income taxes thanks to the Brownback administration’s 2012 tax cuts is one called BCLT II, LLC.

BCLT II happens to be owned by Bill Self, the legendary University of Kansas men’s basketball head coach.

Under his 2012 contract with KU, Self pulls down a salary of $230,000 a year. But that’s just a small part of his compensation.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Kansas lawmakers struggled over the weekend working late nights trying to craft a budget solution. Ultimately, they approved a plan in the early hours of Monday morning.

KHI News Service file photo

The Kansas House shot down a plan to return some 330,000 Kansas businesses back to the income tax rolls Friday, voting 45-74 on the measure.

A tax conference committee made up of House and Senate negotiators agreed to push the measure forward for a floor vote as the Legislature tries to close a budget gap, adjourn the session and head back to the campaign trail.

Jim McLean / KHI News Service

Kansas officials got the bad news they were expecting Wednesday.

After reading the economic tea leaves and noting that state tax collections have been short of expectations in 11 of the past 12 months, the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group reduced its revenue projections for this budget year and the next by $228.6 million.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Estimates for Kansas tax collections were ratcheted down sharply Wednesday. The state’s projected revenues dropped by a quarter billion dollars over the next year-and-a-half. That leaves Kansas with a budget deficit, and Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is proposing plans for erasing the shortfall.

Kansas will need to find $140 million in the current fiscal year to get out of the red. Next fiscal year, which starts in July, will need another $151 million in cuts or new revenue. Brownback’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, laid out three options for filling the hole.

It's widely acknowledged that college graduates earn more than non-graduates, but given the ever-increasing cost of higher education, is it still worth the investment? Up To Date's Smart Money Experts weigh in. Also, an update on recent financial headlines. 


Kansas Legislature

The vice chairman of the Kansas Senate Ways and Means Committee says he's been told by Gov. Sam Brownback that the governor might consider rolling back a major portion of his signature 2012 tax cut bill.

Sen. Jim Denning, a Republican from Overland Park, joined KCUR's Statehouse Blend Podcast this weekend and told host Sam Zeff that Brownback might not veto a bill that would close the loophole that allows more then 300,000 small businesses in Kansas to avoid state income tax.

When it comes to taxes, are we morally obligated to pay them to help our society? As presidential nominating conventions come up, is it ethical for a party to change the rules to block a candidate, even if he or she has a large majority of the popular vote? Up To Date's Ethics professors tackle these issues and more.


  • Clancy Martin is a professor of philosophy at UMKC.
  • Adrian Switzer is an assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy at the UMKC.

Tax Waver

Apr 13, 2016

You've seen them on the sidewalk outside those tax places, waving to all who pass by. Meet the man behind the Statue of Liberty costume.

Megan Hart / Heartland Health Monitor

Three influential Republican state senators Tuesday introduced a bill to repeal a controversial business tax exemption approved as part of Gov. Sam Brownback’s 2012 income tax cuts.

Sen. Jim Denning, an Overland Park Republican, said the measure is needed to close a tax “loophole” that is costing “at least $250 million” a year and wreaking havoc with the state budget.

“It continues to make the budget unstable,” Denning said in a news release. “Given the rapid deterioration of the budget, I believe we have the votes to close the loophole and send the bill to the governor.”

A study released last month by Wichita State University found that Kansas'  sales tax pushes shoppers across state and county lines in order to save money on food. Kansas is one of only 14 states that includes groceries in the state sales tax.

For this 50th episode, we recorded Statehouse Blend live in front of a studio audience at Westport Flea Market. We explore the most pressing issues of 2016 with KCUR's Sam Zeff and Steve Kraske, and with guests Republican Rep. John Rubin and Democratic Rep. John Wilson.


  • John Rubin, Representative from District 014, Kansas Legislature
  • John Wilson, Representative from, Kansas Legislature 
  • Steve Kraske, Host of Up To Date, KCUR

As legislators go back to work in Kansas this month, there’s one thing on everyone’s mind—the budget. Tax cuts have left the state scrambling to find enough money to cover its programs. We discuss that and how President Obama's statements on gun violence apply to Kansas on this edition of Up to Date.


  • Sen. David Haley, a Democrat from Kansas City, Kan.
  • Rep. Stephanie Clayton, a Republican from Overland Park

Kansas collected $27 million less than expected in taxes last month, largely driven by sagging income and sales tax receipts. The drop is enough to erase the state’s small estimated savings account.

Kansas Secretary of Revenue Nick Jordan says it’s too early to tell if it’s a one-time drop in income taxes or a trend.

“It is the first time this fiscal year that individual income tax receipts have not grown compared to the prior fiscal year to date,” says Jordan.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has once again thrown his support behind a fuel tax increase in order to fund highway improvements.

Speaking Thursday to host Steve Kraske on KCUR's to Date, Nixon says he hopes a bill pre-filed this month by Sen. Doug Libla (R-Poplar Bluff) "gets to his desk."

Experts say financial planning is often key to financial success but one of the biggest challenges is finding the right person to manage your money. A panel of wealth management professionals offer advice on how to find someone who is competent, trustworthy, and interested in helping you achieve your financial goals.


Creative Commons-Pixabay

 After opposing efforts to hike the state’s cigarette tax for more than a decade, Missouri convenience stores are now pushing two tobacco-increase plans, either of which they said would add $800 million to state coffers within a decade of their enactment.

The Missouri Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association on Monday filed paperwork seeking state authorization to place their plans on the ballot in November 2016. The plans include roll-back language that could send the language to court if approved by voters.

“We are sick of being on the defensive when it comes to this issue,” says Ron Leone, the association’s executive director.

KHI News Service photo

The cigarette tax increase Kansas legislators approved in June to help close a budget gap has not dissuaded people from buying smokes in Kansas — at least not yet.

The state cigarette tax climbed from 79 cents per pack to $1.29 per pack on July 1, an increase of 63 percent. Tax revenue from cigarette sales for July 2015 was up 64 percent over July 2014, which means people purchased about the same amount of cigarettes in Kansas as they did before the tax hike, if the underlying cost of a pack of cigarettes stayed relatively close to last year’s price. (Data on the average price of a pack of cigarettes in Kansas last month is not yet available.)

That’s significant, because the prospect of higher taxes spurring Kansans to quit was used as an argument both for and against the tax hike.