Brown back Signs Tax Hike Bill
June 16, 2015

(AP) – Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed bills raising sales and cigarette taxes to balance the state’s next budget.

The Republican governor announced the signings Tuesday, only hours after he had a Statehouse news conference to defend the higher taxes.

Brownback said the bills don’t really represent a tax increase because of past income tax cuts he pushed successfully through the GOP-dominated Legislature in 2012 and 2013.

A budget shortfall arose after those income tax cuts, and the two bills passed this year together raise $384 million during the fiscal year beginning July 1 to avert a deficit.

One bill increases the sales tax to 6.5 percent from 6.15 percent. The other increases the cigarette tax by 50 cents a pack to $1.29. Both laws take effect July 1.

Health Advocates Lush Kansas Tax Hike on Cogarettes
May 4, 2015

(AP) – Health advocates say they support a proposed state tax hike to cigarettes.
Representatives of Kansans for a Healthy Future said at a Monday news conference that increasing cigarette taxes would both bring in revenue and save the state money as it reduces smoking. The organization is a comprised of community anti-smoking advocates.
Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has proposed increasing the cigarette tax to $2.29 a pack from 79 cents. He has also recommended raising the tax on other tobacco products to 25 percent from 10 percent as the state looks to fill budget shortfalls of roughly $422 million.
Terry Dunn, chairman of the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, said at the conference that the tax would make the state more proactive about health and competitiveness.

Ks. Senate Committee Looks at Hiking Booze & Cig Taxes
March 24, 2015

(AP) – Health advocates and business owners are divided over proposed increases in cigarette and alcohol taxes in Kansas.
The Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee considered the measures Tuesday. Republican Gov. Sam Brownback recommended the moves in January as a part of his budget proposals.
The cigarette tax would jump by $1.50 per pack to $2.29 and the tax paid by consumers at liquor stores would increase to 12 percent from 8 percent.
Health advocates testified for the bill, saying that increasing prices is the best way to get smokers to quit.
But representatives of liquor and tobacco businesses testified that the bill would hurt local shops and send shoppers to Missouri.
Chairman and Republican Sen. Les Donovan of Wichita said the committee will likely vote on the bill in April.

Raising Tobacco Tax, Minimum Wage, Payday Loans, StL Police Lead Missouri Ballot Issues
May 27, 2012

St. Joseph News Press:
Of the 48 initiative petitions approved for circulation by the Missouri Secretary of State’s office, only four appear to have garnered the required number of signatures to find their way onto the ballot in November.
The deadline for turning in petitions for inclusion on the ballot has passed. The secretary of state’s office has until Aug. 7 to verify the signatures on the four that have the sufficient number of signatures.
The successful petitions are related to local control of the St. Louis police force, the cigarette tax, payday loans and the minimum wage.
Missouri has the lowest tobacco tax (17 cents) of any state. The initiative asks voters to approve a 73-cent increase per pack.
The state’s cigarette tax is so low that raising it by a dollar would still keep it under the national average.
Missouri voters have been cool to the issue, having shot down previous attempts at raising the tax in 2002 and 2006.
The controversial minimum wage issue is likely coming to voters pending the verification process. The ballot initiative seeks to raise the minimum wage to $8.25 per hour, and then adjust it annually to the consumer price index. Tipped employees would receive a 60 percent raise. The current minimum wage is $7.25.
Voters will also likely have the opportunity to affect the payday loan industry in November. The industry that provides payday loans, car title loans and installment loans have “carried triple-digit interest rates as high as three hundred percent annually or higher,” according to the petition language.
The initiative seeks to bar them from “charging excessive fees and interest rates that can lead families into a cycle of debt.” The initiative would limit the interest rates to 36 percent per year. Critics of the initiative say this would limit the loan options for people with bad credit, while stifling the ability of the loan companies to turn a profit.