TOPEKA — Democrats in the U.S. Senate were to host a hearing today in opposition to Republicans’ efforts to pass tax reform that features two Kansans.
Kansas House Democratic Leader Jim Ward, Wichita, and Sarah LaFrenz, an employee of the Kansas Department for Health and Environment, will both speak. The hearing by the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee is titled, “Who Pays for the GOP’s Trillion Dollar Tax Cut? How Families, Seniors, and the Middle Class are Hit Hardest.”
According to the release, the hearing will feature speakers comparing the Congressional Republican tax plan to cuts championed by Gov. Sam Brownback that were mostly rolled back this summer. Congressional Republicans have sought to draw distinctions between their plan and the abandoned Kansas model.
“(Senators) will hear testimony to counter the misleading argument that economic growth will make up for lost revenue in the Republican tax plan as well as ways in which the Republican tax plan hurts seniors, working families and homeowners,” the release says.
Ward said he will talk about stagnant job and economic growth and the Kansas tax cuts’ impacts on education. He said he’ll also discuss the “inherent unfairness” of Kansas’ cuts.
Republicans were poised to release the full text of a tax cut bill today. They’ve been working from a framework that reduces the number of income tax brackets, cuts rates on all filers and eases taxes on corporations and pass-through entities, like LLCs. It also promises to increase the standard deduction and expand tax credits for child care.
Ward did not think it would be too early to counter the plan despite not having seen a full bill.
“We know what the principles are,” Ward said. “You can hear it in the talking points used by those proponents.”
U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., has said the Congressional plan and Kansas’ plan are not comparable and advocated Republicans’ plan. Her spokesman Michael Byerly said in an email he was glad Democrats scheduled the hearing before the bill was released.
“Now we can officially dispense with the pretense that this ‘hearing’ and their opposition to tax reform has anything to do with the actual policy and is nothing more than blatant political obstructionism,” Byerly said. “Bringing in a liberal, partisan politician, who knows nothing about the reforms we are discussing on the federal level for the sole purpose of raising his name recognition for his gubernatorial candidacy only adds to the absurdity.”
Republicans’ efforts to reduce brackets and cut taxes on individuals and corporations resemble the Kansas plan, but it reduces the rate on LLCs while Kansas eliminated those taxes. Republicans have also promised to institute “guard posts” to prevent tax avoidance.