Paul Davis unveils plans for tax policy, economic development

6/30/2014

By Bryan Lowry

By Bryan Lowry

The Wichita Eagle

(MCT) — Paul Davis, the Democratic candidate for governor, says the state should postpone further implementation of income tax cuts until base state aid for education is restored to pre-recession levels at $4,492.

However, Davis, an outspoken critic of the cuts' impact to revenue, stopped short of calling for full repeal of the income tax cuts. He would freeze income tax rates at their 2015 levels, 4.6 percent for the top bracket and 2.7 percent for the lower bracket. In 2016 the lower rate would drop to 2.4 percent. And in 2018 the top rate would fall to 3.9 percent. These drops would be postponed.

"We need to hit the pause button," he said.

Davis unveiled his economic and tax policy plans at a pair of events Monday — first at an elementary school in Kansas City, Kansas, in the morning. He was to also speak at a National Center for Aviation Training in Wichita in the late afternoon.

Davis, the House Minority Leader who represents Lawrence, emphasized that he plans to take a bipartisan approach to economic policy. He was joined by his running mate Jill Docking, a Wichita businesswoman, and his newly announced team of economic advisers, former lieutenant governors Gary Sherrer and John Moore.

Sherrer, a Republican who served with Gov. Bill Graves, called the state's current fiscal policy "worse than a dead end."

He pointed to the state's revenue shortfalls in April and May, which totaled more than $300 million, and the decision by Moody's Investor Services to downgrade the state's bond rating. He said this threatened future economic development.

Acknowledging the setting, Piper Elementary School in Kansas City, he said that economic development begins in elementary schools.

"Don't you forget that," said Sherrer, who once served as secretary of commerce.

Davis called for the formation of a bipartisan commission on tax policy aimed at lowering local property taxes, strengthening incentives for job growth and ensuring accountability in the tax code.

Haley Pollock, Davis' policy advisor, said the Brownback tax plan gives away millions of dollars regardless of whether jobs are created.

Mark Dugan, Brownback's campaign manager, responded to Davis' economic proposals with a short email.

"Paul Davis has a 12-year record of voting to raise sales taxes, voting to raise income taxes, and voting against property tax relief for hard-working Kansas families and his plan unveiled today is more of the same," Dugan said.

Davis voted against a school bill that included property tax relief. However, he has voted for and proposed property tax relief regularly, according to his campaign spokesman, Chris Pumpelly.

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