Daily Archives: March 18, 2011

Senate panel allocates money for Arts Commission

A state Senate committee has taken the first step toward funding the Kansas Arts Commission for next year.

The arts commission was not allocated money in Governor Sam Brownback’s budget because he planned to move it into the Kansas State Historical Society. He created a foundation that he hoped would raise private funds to promote the arts.

Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, the chair of the Ways and Means committee, told reporters today that her committee adjusted its budget proposal to allocate $698,000 to the commission.

McGinn said that allocation would be 15 percent less than the $775,000 the commission received last year. Read More »

House resurrects bill to cut state income taxes

TOPEKA — A day after rejecting a bill to eventually phase out state income taxes, the House reversed course and passed an amended version of the measure today.

On a 73-47 vote, representatives approved Senate Bill 1, which would establish a formula to reduce income taxes as other forms of tax revenues rise.

The House rejected the measure Thursday. Today, Taxation Committee Chairman Richard Carlson, R-St. Marys, brought it back in an amended version.

Carlson

The original would have continued indefinitely the three-year, one-percent sales tax approved last year as the state struggled with the recession.

Under the new version, the increased sales tax will sunset on schedule and the rate will drop from 6.3 to 5.7 percent at the end of the three years, Carlson said.

Four-tenths of a percentage point of the sales tax increase will continue, to fund highway projects, as specified in current law.

The bill passed over Democrats’ objections that it would lead to billion-dollar deficits in future years and increase pressure on sales and property taxes to fund state operations.

Wetta

“When it (income tax) is gone, our three-legged stool is cut to two — and the worst two we can choose,” said an explanation of vote filed by Reps. Ann Mah, D-Topeka, and Vince Wetta, D-Wellington. “Sales tax is a regressive tax that impacts low-wage earners most. Property tax is the most hated tax as it makes sure you never really own your property.”

Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, said the state is already facing a $500 million shortfall, and cutting income taxes and the sales tax both will make the situation even worse. Read More »

House OKs Brownback effort to repopulate rural Kansas

TOPEKA — The House today approved Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to use tax and tuition credits to lure population to rural counties, but there was no love for Sumner County.

On a lopsided voice vote, the House approved Senate Bill 198, one of the cornerstones of Brownback’s plan to revitalize the state economy.

The bill is designed to grant five years of income tax relief to people who move from out of state into any of 50 rural and depopulating Kansas counties.

It also would allow counties and the state to split the check and cover $15,000 in tuition costs for students who move to the rural counties after graduation.

“This is a great bill for rural Kansas,” said Rep. Marvin Kleeb, R-Overland Park, who carried the bill on the floor.

The House turned aside an amendment by Rep. Vince Wetta, D-Wellington, who tried to get Sumner County added to the list of counties covered by the program. Read More »

Democrats continue criticism of legislator’s comment about shooting illegal immigrants

Peck

Democrats continued their call for the resignation of Rep. Virgil Peck, R-Tyro, today, amid international coverage of his comment earlier this week suggesting that illegal immigrants might be hunted like feral hogs.

CNN broadcast Peck’s apology Thursday.

“I’m Virgil Peck, and on Monday, I made an inappropriate comment,” Peck told CNN. “For that, I’m sorry, and I apologize to anyone that I offended with my inappropriate comment. I’ll be more careful with my words in the future.”

Peck also apologized in a statement he handed out in the House on Tuesday. He declined further comment today. Read More »