27 April 2021 | Tax and budget

Lawmakers must reject tax plan that would harm Kansas’ recovery, deepen inequities

Emily Fetsch
April 27, 2021

When Kansas lawmakers reconvene next week, they must prioritize our families and communities as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. One important way to do so is by rejecting SB 50, a misguided tax plan that will hurt families, deepen economic and racial inequities, and weaken our recovery.

This bill would cost Kansas nearly $300 million over three years, draining much-needed funds for schools, health care, and other public services that are critical to getting the state back on track. The lion’s share of that $300 million would go to profitable businesses and the wealthiest Kansans. Only a tiny sliver of the tax package – the increase in the standard deduction – is targeted to low- and moderate-income Kansans. This would result in an average annual tax reduction of about $26 for the average Kansan, which wouldn’t even cover the cost of two large pizzas for a family.

While the fiscal note for SB 50 combines the package’s personal income tax changes (the orange section in the graphic above), the bulk of that cut ($180-195 million of the $251 million) is accounted for by changes to the itemized deduction, which would almost exclusively benefit higher-income Kansans, according to the Kansas Division of the Budget. This leaves about $56-71 million for the increase in the standard deduction, the only component of this entire bill that would benefit low- and moderate-income Kansas families.

Lawmakers should see SB 50 for what it really is: a tax package that overwhelming helps higher-income Kansans and larger businesses, with a miniscule tax cut thrown in for Kansans to try to sweeten this bitter pill of a bill.

SB 50 isn’t the right bill for Kansas because it fails to put children and families first. Kansas should promote an equitable recovery from COVID-19 and long-term economic health by investing in what families and businesses need to thrive: quality schools to educate the next generation; state-of-the-art transportation that enables parents to work and businesses to bring their products to market; safe, stable communities; and efficient state services. Kansas legislators shouldn’t settle for bad policy that will leave most of us worst off. We must demand changes that are equitable and meet the needs of our state.

Legislators must vote NO on SB 50 and sustain the governor's veto.

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