Kansas may raise taxes on the poor to fund cuts for the rich

By Muriel Kane
Friday, February 24, 2012 20:26 EDT
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It looked good on paper. A bill sponsored by Kansas Republican Governor Sam Brownback would spur economic growth by cutting income taxes on residents and doing away with them entirely for most small business while reducing or eliminating a variety of tax credits.

But it turns out that in the version of the bill approved by a House committee this week, half a million of the state’s poorest residents who earn less than $25,000 will wind up paying an average of $72 more per year, while the 21,000 Kansans who make over $250.000 will get an average tax cut of $1500.

A source in the state legislature told the Associated Press that the legislation will also reduce state revenues by more than $850 million oer the next five years.

Kansas Democrats are predictably outraged. “It’s been Robin Hood in reverse,” Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley complained last month. “What we are doing is stealing from the poor to give to the rich.”

It could be worse. the plan originally proposed by Governor Brownback would have given the wealthiest Kansans a $5200 tax cut, while forcing the lowest-income residents to pay $156 more.

“Our goal is for our economy to look more like Texas, and a lot less like California,” Brownback explained.

The Los Angeles Times notes, however, that Kansas is already far more prosperous than Texas. The state enjoys one of the nation’s lowest unemployment rates and its poverty rate is estimated to be 13.5%, compared to 17.9% for Texas.

The attention being paid to the legislation may be having an effect. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported on Friday that Governor Brownback was finding it necessary to apply “a full-court press” to persuade wavering legislators to stick with his plan.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Muriel Kane
Muriel Kane
Muriel Kane is an associate editor at Raw Story. She joined Raw Story as a researcher in 2005, with a particular focus on the Jack Abramoff affair and other Bush administration scandals. She worked extensively with former investigative news managing editor Larisa Alexandrovna, with whom she has co-written numerous articles in addition to her own work. Prior to her association with Raw Story, she spent many years as an independent researcher and writer with a particular focus on history, literature, and contemporary social and political attitudes. Follow her on Twitter at @Muriel_Kane
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