The 2012 tax cuts left a $7.3 billion hole in the Kansas state budget. To make up for it, the legislature passed the largest tax increase in history and even that did not fill the budget hole, as it got deeper every month. The tax increases may have made the economy worse as it took money out of the hands of those who were most likely to spend it.
The worst tax increase was in sales taxes, particularly the increase in tax on food. That took money from the pockets of low income Kansans and those on fixed incomes . It was particularly unfair for senior citizens, as they have been paying income tax all their lives, and now they must pay more for food.
During the 2019 session, the Legislature passed HB 2033 which would have reduced the sales tax on food about one cent. That proposal was bundled with a sales tax decrease on corporations, an Internet sales tax increase, and a proposal to allow Kansans to itemize deductions on their state form. The governor vetoed the bill and, though almost every legislator supported lowering the sales tax on food, there were not enough votes to override the veto as many people objected to other parts of the bill.
Though this year’s budget ended up with a small surplus, there was not enough money to pay the debts we have accumulated, particularly in child and family services, prisons, pension funds, and infrastructure. Once those are paid, the Legislature should work on eliminating the sales tax on food.