158 have applied for state’s new Rural Opportunity Zone incentives

Sun City, in Barber County, is included in the Rural Opportunity Zones initiative.

Rural Kansas may soon welcome some strangers.

More than 150 people have applied for a new state incentive that pays off up to $3,000 a year on college loans for graduates who move to eligible rural counties and refunds all state income taxes for folks who move from out of state, the Kansas Department of Commerce announced today.

Meanwhile, Chautauqua, Grove and Pawnee counties have joined the student loan reimbursement portion of the Rural Opportunity Zones initiative.

The program pays off up to $3,000 in student loans per year for five years for students who graduate from accredited colleges and technical schools. The incentive is available in 43 counties that have opted-in to the program. People can qualify for a 100 percent income tax reimbursement for five years if they  move into Kansas and haven’t lived here for at least five years and have had less than $10,000 income inside the state for the past five years. That incentive is funded by the state. It’s automatically active in 50 counties.

Gov. Sam Brownback cites the migration of people from Kansas to states with lower income tax rates when discussing broad concepts of the tax policy he plans to present during his State of the State speech Jan. 11 at 6:30 p.m. He has already said all types of credits, exemptions and deductions are on the table as potential cuts, even those that carry into state income taxes from the federal level. Brownback’s comments indicate that if he proposes reduced individual income tax rates, he will likely suggest dialing the rate down slowly over several years.