Tax flap


Retaining state sales tax amounts to just a Band-Aid.

Retaining state sales tax amounts to just a Band-Aid.

In 2010, a group of Democrats and moderate Republicans, led by Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson, took one for the team by passing a 1 cent sales tax increase.

For rescuing the state, which was suffering through the Great Recession, they were pilloried by conservative Republicans and their allies.

But sometimes you put political consequences aside and do what's right for the greater good, so that's what they did.

This brings us to the question now before the Kansas Legislature, which is trying to fashion a tax plan and a budget so it can end the 2013 session. Six-tenths of that 1 cent sales tax is due to expire July 1. Gov. Brownback wants to retain the tax, which generates about $250 million a year.

The possibility of making the sales tax permanent is getting a receptive audience in the Senate, but not so much in the House.

Brownback needs the revenue from the sales tax because of the income tax cuts he and his fellow conservatives rammed through the Legislature back in 2012. Those cuts, designed to ignite the state's economy, have left Kansas hundreds of millions of dollars short of revenue and could threaten education, highways and much more.

But even if the six-tenths of the sales tax, or a portion of it, is retained, it won't be enough to keep the state running at current spending levels. Not by a long shot. At best, retaining the tax is a Band-Aid that will buy the state another year or so.

Now, Democrats and moderate Republicans (what's left of them) in the House are being asked once again to look out for the greater good and vote to extend the sales tax. The question is, what's the greater good?

They could turn the other cheek and go along with Brownback to help soften the blow from his income tax cuts.

Or, is the greater good to join with conservative Republicans to defeat the sales tax increase? That could result in particularly painful cuts — so painful that it might lead to the end of Brownback and his red state "experiment."

Guess it depends on how one defines "greater good."

-- The Salina Journal

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