When Kansas families purchase groceries, they’re paying a higher sales tax than anyone else in the country. According to the Tax Foundation, Kansas is one of seven states that taxes groceries at the same rate as other purchases — a particularly hefty burden considering our overall sales tax rate of 6.5 percent. Kansas imposes the eighth-highest sales tax across the board — a rate the Legislature increased in 2015 to offset the cost of Gov. Sam Brownback’s massive income tax cuts. …

It’s worth remembering what Republican lawmakers had to say when the GOP-dominated Legislature passed the $432 million tax increase that launched the sales tax from an already-high 6.15 percent to 6.5 percent. Brownback was thrilled with the new taxes: “I greatly appreciate the hard work of the Legislature in passing the budget and a tax bill that meets our constitutional obligation to provide sufficient revenue to fund budget appropriations.” …

When the Legislature passed Senate Bill 30 – the tax reform package projected to bring in $1.2 billion over two years – Brownback immediately announced that he would veto it. He decried the bill’s “harmful impacts on Kansas families” and declared that it would “leave our citizens poorer.” … But for someone so concerned about “draconian tax increases on Kansas families,” isn’t it odd that Brownback had no problem signing legislation that hit Kansas families with the highest grocery tax in the nation? …

Of course, Brownback isn’t the only one who has demonstrated his hypocrisy on tax increases — many conservatives in the Legislature did the same. Rep. John Whitmer is a Wichita Republican who diligently repeated the standard conservative talking point on taxes last session: “Our state government has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.” As such, Whitmer was resolutely opposed to the passage of SB 30. But he wasn’t so committed to tax cuts when he voted for the sales tax increase in 2015: “I voted for something I am not proud of,” Whitmer said tearfully in 2015. “But I feel it’s what the folks need.”

Apparently, folks only “need” to pay higher taxes when they’re subsidizing failed conservative economic experiments. Kansans should remember this whenever self-styled champions of hard-working families like Whitmer and Brownback boast about their staunch opposition to tax increases.

— The Topeka Capital-Journal