Sunday, December 21, 2014

TYSON: Taxes eyed in legislative rundown

By CARYN TYSON, Kansas State Senator | 3/18/2013

The Kansas Senate passed a tax bill (HB 2059) that would continue to ratchet down Kansas income tax rates, while still providing the necessary services. The bill needs some work but it is a step toward keeping taxpayer money in your pocket — not sending it to Topeka.

While decreasing income taxes, the bill also decreases the amount of deductions available. Several of us worked to craft an equation that would decrease all deductions proportionally as income taxes are decreased, instead of just removing the mortgage interest deduction. The charitable contribution deduction was not included in the equation. We were successful in making this change to the bill.

The Kansas Senate passed a tax bill (HB 2059) that would continue to ratchet down Kansas income tax rates, while still providing the necessary services. The bill needs some work but it is a step toward keeping taxpayer money in your pocket — not sending it to Topeka.

While decreasing income taxes, the bill also decreases the amount of deductions available. Several of us worked to craft an equation that would decrease all deductions proportionally as income taxes are decreased, instead of just removing the mortgage interest deduction. The charitable contribution deduction was not included in the equation. We were successful in making this change to the bill.

Last year, the tax plan signed into law reduced Kansas income tax for individuals by reducing the three income tax brackets to two, and lowered income tax rates to 3 percent for the lowest income tax earners and 4.9 percent for the highest income tax earners.

HB 2059 would reduce the lowest tax bracket to 2.5 percent and would reduce it to 1.9 percent by 2016. Individuals making more than $50,000 a year would see a reduction of their tax rates from 4.9 percent to 3.5 percent by 2017. After 2017, any state general fund growth of more than 4 percent would be used to further buy down the income tax rates for filers.

HB 2059 freezes the current sales tax rate at 6.3 percent. The Senate is committed to providing further tax relief for Kansans and to fostering a competitive business environment in our state. The private market is where true job creation is made and, in order for Kansas to be competitive, state government must leave more of Kansans’ hard-earned money in their pockets.

• HB 2022, also known as the Paycheck Protection Act, would stop the use of taxpayer money to make payroll deductions for members of public sector unions. Our taxpayer money should not be used to collect money for third-party groups. The more we can streamline our accounting and the burden on the system, the more successful we become at smaller government. Individuals can set up direct deposit, write a check, have automatic withdrawal or many other options to spend their paychecks. While the bill would eliminate the option for the payroll deduction, it is important to note members are not prohibited from contributing to their union’s PAC.

The bill also includes amendments to the wage payment act, which allows employers to withhold a portion of an employee’s wages if they have loaned them money, overpaid their salary or purchased any merchandise or uniforms used by the employee. The provision also allows employers to withhold a portion of an employee’s final wages if the employee does not return property belonging to the employer; to repay a loan or advance the employer made to the employee; to recoup an overpayment for payroll; or to replace an employer’s merchandise, uniforms or equipment lost or damaged by the employee.

The bill further revises the current Professional Negotiations Act and Public Employer-Employee Relations Act (PEERA) by redefining and restricting all partisan or political employee organizations (PEO’s). Additionally, HB 2022 prohibits PEO’s from negotiating with boards of education regarding the terms and conditions of professional services, or from deducting dues from members’ paychecks for partisan or political activities. If a public employee wanted to spend money for partisan or political purposes, then they would need to ensure members’ contributions were voluntary. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 24 to 16.

• A few weeks ago, the Senate passed SCR 1601 — a measure that would amend the process of how Kansas Supreme Court Justices and Kansas Court of Appeal judges are selected. The House sent us their version for changes in judicial selection, HB 2019. HB 2019 includes the same provisions as SCR 1601 except it would amend the Kansas Constitution.

HB 2019 would allow for the gubernatorial appointment and Senate confirmation of judges. The bill now is on its way to the governor’s office and will be the first bill signed into law this session.  The bill passed on a vote of 28 to 12.

• SB 45, if signed by the governor, prohibits the use of state-appropriated money to lobby the federal, state or local units of government for increased gun control measures. The bill protects the rights of taxpayers and enforces that public funds are not used to pursue a political agenda against legal products, including guns. SB 45 passed the Senate by a vote of 32 to 8, and now advances to the Kansas House of Representatives for further action.

• HB 2252 is a bill that eliminates the statutes of limitation for the prosecution of rape or aggravated criminal sodomy. The bill also allows for the prosecution of a sexually violent crime to commence within 10 years of when the victim turns 18 years old or older. Prosecution of a sexually violent crime would now be allowed to commence within one year of the date the identity of the suspect is conclusively established by DNA testing, or within 10 years of the date the victim turns 18 years of age, whichever is later. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 40 to 0. HB 2252 has been sent to the governor to be signed into law.

• HB 2081 is another bill that would amend current criminal law statutes to add an additional list of offenses for individuals convicted of the solicitation of a child, aggravated indecent solicitation of a child and sexual exploitation of a child. The bill also specifies that authorities could retain any computer, computer system, computer network or any software or data owned by the defendant. In current law, these items are only retained if used during the crime — this also includes electronic devices used by the suspect. The bill has been sent to the governor.

Caryn Tyson is a Kansas state senator, representing District 12, which includes Franklin County. Email her at Caryn.Tyson@senate.ks.gov or call (785) 296-6838.

comments powered by Disqus