AP: State briefs
Kansas income tax take effect Jan. 1
TOPEKA (AP) — Sweeping changes in the Kansas tax code took effect Tuesday, when new rates for individual income taxpayers took effect.
The laws were approved by the Legislature in May and signed by GOP Gov. Sam Brownback. They are part of the administration's efforts to improve the state's business climate and increase the amount of money residents keep in their paychecks.
The top individual income tax rate drops to 4.9 percent from 6.45 percent. The owners of 191,000 businesses are exempt from income taxes. The changes are expected to cost the state about $4.5 billion over the next six years.
Brownback hasn't ruled out keeping the sales tax rate at 6.3 percent to help with budgeting. The rate was increased in 2010 and is scheduled to drop to 5.7 percent in July.
Kansas revenues beat December forecast
TOPEKA (AP) — Kansas officials say the state is finishing 2012 with strong revenue collections, beating estimates by $30 million for December.
The Revenue Department said Monday the state collected $602 million in December, compared with the $572 million that had been forecast. Individual income tax payments in December played a big role, exceeding estimates by $27 million.
December sales tax revenues came in at $184.6 million, about $5 million less than expected.
The department also said revenue collections are running $32.7 million ahead of projections for the first half of the fiscal year that began July 1.
Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan called Monday's report a positive sign for the Kansas economy.
Retirees want boost in public pensions
TOPEKA (AP) — Groups representing Kansas retirees want state lawmakers to provide annual cost-of-living increases in pension benefits for former teachers and government workers.
The Kansas Coalition of Public Retirees notes in a recent report that the last such adjustment for all retirees was in 1998. The report suggests tying increases in benefits to the consumer price index. The coalition includes 39 organizations.
However, its proposal isn't likely to get much traction with the Republican-controlled Legislature.
The Kansas Public Employees Retirement System projects a gap of $9.2 billion between anticipated revenues and benefits promised to retirees from now until 2033.
State Sen. Jeff King says it would be irresponsible to grant cost-of-living increases without boosting KPERS revenues.
Kansas program to honor volunteers
TOPEKA (AP) — The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services has announced a volunteer recognition program that will reward state residents for their good deeds.
Department secretary Shawn Sullivan says the Volunteer of the Month program will begin in January, with winners chosen from nominations submitted to the department.
Each monthly winner will receive a check for $50 and a $20 Walgreens gift card. Nominees will be judged on several criteria, including outstanding performance, high level of willingness to help others, strong commitment to volunteering and good relationships with those who are helped by the volunteer.
Nominations can be made on the agency's website or by going to the New England building at 5th Street and Kansas Avenue in Topeka for nomination forms.