TOPEKA - During debate last week on the floor of the House of Representatives, the body overwhelmingly voted 122-2 to provide $90 million in property tax relief to Kansas communities over the next two fiscal years. Today, House Republicans reversed that decision by a 83-34 vote.
"Last week, the House overwhelmingly voted to cut Kansas property taxes by $90 million, and today, Republicans took it back. It's that simple," said House Democratic Leader Paul Davis. "We have a serious property tax problem in Kansas, but Republicans are ignoring it so that they can pay for income tax cuts for the wealthy. This is a classic case of wrong priorities."
Initially a part of Democrats’ Kansas First proposal, the amended version of House Bill 2212 would have applied $90 million of the state’s $351+ million surplus over the next two fiscal years to the Local Ad Valorem Tax Reduction Fund (LAVTRF). In the past, the Legislature has transferred money into this account for the purposes of distribution to each of the state’s 105 counties. Local units of government are then required to use the funding for reductions in the local property tax rate. No such transfer has been made since 2004.
Republicans claim the reversal vote was necessary because they were "tricked" during debate. Davis has stated that there was no intent to deceive the body and the amendment was available for review by every legislator.
"Why do Republicans have to be 'tricked' into supporting property tax cuts?," said Davis.
A 2011 study by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation concluded that Kansas ranks 21st in competitiveness for individual income tax rates, 32nd for sales tax rates, and 41st for property tax rates. Additionally, the nonpartisan Department of Legislative Research has confirmed that property tax rates have increased over 65 percent over the last decade.
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