Kansas Senators Start to Talk of Tax Money Solutions
April 28, 2016

(AP) – Three Republican senators are proposing a bill to reinstate income taxes for more than 330,000 Kansas business owners.

The Senate Tax Committee reviewed the proposal Thursday as lawmakers try to address the state’s $290 million budget deficit in an election year.

State budget officials say reinstating the tax on farmers and business owners would bring in an estimated $170.6 million in fiscal year 2017. The bill would tax 70 percent of their income.

The Wichita Eagle reports (http://bit.ly/1SvNGDR ) business groups strongly oppose reversing the tax exemption. Democrats and others say the bill doesn’t go far enough to solve the state’s budget problems.

Gov. Sam Brownback proposed the tax exemption as part of a package slashing personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013, which he said would stimulate the state’s economy.

Deal in Kansas Continues to be Elusive
June 3, 2015

(AP) – The Kansas House expects to vote on a proposed budget that would still leave the state with a $406 million shortfall.

The chamber was considering the measure Wednesday. It would cut in half a budget shortfall initially projected at about $800 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Republican Rep. Don Hill of Emporia said he is concerned about voting for the budget because it would not balance without tax increases.

Proposals to raise taxes have been blocked by the deep divisions within in the GOP supermajorities in both chambers.

House and Senate budget leaders agreed Tuesday to draft an alternative budget plan to be considered the Senate. It would close the budget gap with a 5.7 percent across-the-board cut in funding for state agencies and public schools.

Brownback Says No Bright Lone on. Tax Bill
May 20, 2015

(AP) – Republican Gov. Sam Brownback says he’s not drawing clear lines on what he’ll accept as the GOP-dominated Kansas Legislature considers backtracking on one of his major economic initiatives.

Brownback said Wednesday that such an approach is more helpful as lawmakers work on a plan for raising taxes. They must close a projected $406 million budget shortfall for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

The House Taxation Committee was working on a plan to raise the state’s sales tax to 6.5 percent from 6.15 percent. But the plan also would tax some business income exempted by lawmakers in 2012.

Brownback championed the 2012 policy as an economic stimulus. It exempted the profits of 281,000 business owners and 53,000 farmers from income taxes.

Influential business groups want to preserve the tax break.

Blunt & McCaskill Differ on Approach to Taxes in Lame Duck Session & Beyond
November 15, 2012

. (AP) — Emblematic of the stalemate in Washington, Missouri’s two U.S. senators staked out opposing positions Wednesday on whether to raise taxes on the wealthy as part of a solution to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff facing the nation’s economy.
Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill said she supports President Barack Obama’s insistence that top income-earners should face higher tax rates to help trim the U.S. deficit. But Republican Sen. Roy Blunt said he opposes increasing the tax rates for anyone.
Their opposite positions tracked the partisan divide in Washington, where the Democratic president and Republican House leaders each are calling upon the other to compromise.
The “fiscal cliff” refers to a package of automatic tax increases and spending cuts set to occur unless Congress takes action to avoid it before the end of the year. About $109 billion of annual spending cuts would be split equally between military and domestic programs, and all the tax breaks enacted under former President George W. Bush would expire. Obama reiterated his stance Wednesday that the tax breaks should be extended only for those earning less than $250,000 annually. That would allow the top tax rate to revert to 39.6 percent from the current 35 percent.
McCaskill said she supports raising taxes on the wealthy, though she left room for negotiation on whether that income threshold should be set at $250,000 or $500,000 or $1 million.
“It’s impossible to do this, to get where we need to be in terms of our debt and our deficit, without additional revenues,” McCaskill said in a conference call with reporters. “I certainly support the principle that the president is so strongly stating – that some of that needs to be with those at the very top of the economic ladder paying a little more.”
Blunt, who held a separate conference call with reporters Wednesday, said he was willing to “make that tax structure fairer and flatter” by changing or eliminating some of the existing tax deductions. But Blunt said he remained opposed to raising tax rates for anyone, the wealthy included.
“I just don’t think increasing marginal tax rates is the right thing for the economy,” Blunt said.

McCaskill Goes After GOP Debaters, Steelman and Brunner Clash Off Stage
June 12, 2012

(GOP Senate Candidates (left to right)Todd Akin, Sarah Steelman, John Brunner-Fox2 photo)
Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill criticized her Republican rivals after last night’s GOP debate at Lindenwood University.
McCaskill says the GOP candidate’s plans to reform Social Security could harm Missourians who take part in the program.
The Missouri News Horizon reports the candidates said they support private market plans for programs like Social Security. Steelman explicitly cited private accounts, while Brunner said he would support “choice” in the Social Security system. Akin, too, proclaimed support for less government involvement in the market.
The McCaskill campaign pounced on the issue soon after the debate. In a statement soon after the final question was asked, McCaskill spokesman Erik Dorey said the trio supports an “extreme proposal to leave Missouri seniors at Wall Street’s mercy.”
“Greedy, reckless behavior on Wall Street is what brought the American economy to the brink of collapse just three years ago,” he said, “and Missouri’s families are rightfully anxious about Todd Akin, Sarah Steelman, and John Brunner’s efforts to leave Missouri’s seniors at the mercy of reckless Wall Street speculators.”
MNH also reports ,off stage, the heat within the Republcian primary has risen exponentially in recent weeks. Last week, Brunner launched a statewide television ad criticizing both of his rivals for their previous votes on debt spending and earmarks. At the time, both the Akin and Steelman campaigns deflected the jabs in the ad — both saying they had supported balanced budgets in the past.
In interviews after the debate, both candidates, again, took shots at Brunner for his ad. Steelman said Brunner’s latest ad, which criticizes her for supporting legislation to pay for state infrastructure projects with state bonds in an attempt to show her as a debt increaser, is “totally untrue.”
“We use bonds as a tool to leverage assets to build highways and tools,” Steelman said. “We do so in a very conservative matter.”
Steelman, pointing to a Moody’s Analytics report on Brunner’s financing of projects with debt during his time as CEO of Vi-Jon, said it was in fact Brunner who used “junk bonds” to fill spending gaps and called on him to “open the books” of Vi-Jon’s finances.
Brunner, speaking with MNH and reporters after the debate, said Steelman is “misinformed” about the kind of financing his business used, and added that businesses can be held to a different standard than the federal government.
“The difference in government and private business is accountability and risk,” Brunner said. “If I made the wrong decision, I was held accountable, and I assumed the risk.”
“The problem with too many elected officials, they’re awfully free in handling other people’s money,” he added.
Monday’s debate was hosted by St. Louis conservative talk radio station 97.1 and Missouri News Horizon.
Missouri News Horizon contributed to this story.