Published on -1/23/2013, 11:04 AM
In 2010, the Kansas Legislature was grappling with a budget deficit of just under half-a-billion dollars. Understanding the economic harm that would result from cutting spending by that amount, lawmakers chose to impose a temporary 1-percent statewide sales tax.
The Kansas Chamber of Commerce came unglued, accusing the Hays Area Chamber and others around the state of "throwing their members under the bus." And later that year, the self-proclaimed pro-business association financed a number of successful campaigns against Democrats and moderate Republicans who had voted for the tax.
In 2011, there was no support for repealing the three-year tax early. Not even from the chamber. The about-face didn't even come with an apology; new Gov. Sam Brownback didn't want the revenue to disappear.
Brownback still doesn't. His budget proposal for FY 2014 doesn't allow the increased sales tax to sunset as designed. Of course, the state chamber is fully supportive.
But there remain a number of legislators in the statehouse who had reluctantly voted to raise the tax. They did so only with the comfort that it would come off in July of this year. Many lawmakers, including Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer, R-Grinnell, promised their constituents the increase would be temporary. Were there an economic recession to justify reneging on that promise, we would understand.
The only thing that's changed, however, is the governor's insistence that income taxes disappear along with popular tax deductions such as mortgage interest. It is a self-inflicted wound; part and parcel of the "experiment" to redistribute even more from the poor and middle class to the already wealthy state residents.
Should Ostmeyer and others buck the governor and the state chamber, they'll likely suffer consequences in the next election cycle.
But a promise is a promise. And, given the alternative, it's a much fairer route to take when considering the population of northwest Kansas.
We encourage everyone to encourage our lawmakers to do the right thing. Don't be bullied by the governor and others to break your vow.
As tough as it was, the decision in 2010 was nothing compared to this year. We support allowing the sales tax increase to sunset as scheduled.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry