Friday, December 6, 2019

Welcome to the KDP Weekly Rundown – the Kansas Democratic Party’s update of the biggest things going on in the state party and the state government. What are we focused on this week? Kelly tax council recommendations, executive appointments, and Larned hospital raises!

KELLY TAX REFORM COUNCIL RECOMMENDS ACTION ON LOCAL PROPERTY TAXES, FOOD SALES TAX REBATE, DIGITAL SALES TAXES

  • What’s happening?

Gov. Laura Kelly’s Council on Tax Reform on Tuesday recommended reinstating a state law providing sales tax collections to localities to encourage lower property taxes, as well as a food sales tax rebate for qualifying low and moderate income Kansans.

The proposals followed the fourth and final round of this year’s meetings at the Statehouse. If accepted, the council’s suggestion that legislators for the first time since 2004 no longer waive the rule sharing sales tax revenue with cities and counties would apportion approximately $100 million annually.

Council members determined that, barring further changes to the state’s tax structure, revenue losses from a total elimination of the sales tax on food would severely complicate legislators’ obligation to balance the state budget. The council’s food sales tax rebate would provide a refund to an estimated 400,000 Kansans if fully implemented. Individuals would have to be residents of the state for the entire tax year for which the rebate is applicable.

The council additionally endorsed internet sales taxes on transactions with out-of-state business and the purchase of digital media, such as eBooks, cloud-based applications, and videos games. 29 states currently collect retail sales taxes on digital products. 29 states currently collect retail sales taxes on digital products.

Gov. Laura Kelly: “I want to thank the Council for its work in preparing thoughtful recommendations, and look forward to their continued study in 2020. The proposals they shared today reflect my vision for a fiscally responsible, fair and sustainable tax structure that will keep the tax burden as low as possible for Kansas individuals and businesses.”

KELLY APPOINTS COMMISSION MEMBER, DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

  • What’s happening?

Gov. Kelly announced on Nov. 27 the appointments of Magistrate Judge Christopher Sanders to a 25th Judicial District court vacancy and Dr. Anthony Lewis to the Kansas African American Affairs Commission.

Neither appointments are subject to confirmation by the Kansas Senate. State district court judges are selected from officials chosen by a district nominating commission. Upon acceptance of the nomination, each judge is subject to retention elections every four years.

KELLY RAISES LARNED HOSPITAL EMPLOYEE PAY

  • What’s happening?

Gov. Kelly signed an executive order on December 1 raising salaries for direct care staff at Larned State Hospital, a move the administration hopes will alleviate the institution’s staffing woes. The mayor, city manager, and a councilman of Larned praised the action, which affected more than 325 employees and new hires.

Gov. Kelly: “[The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services’] state hospital employees do important and meaningful work every day that has a direct impact on the quality of life for some of our most vulnerable citizens. I was proud to sign this directive to support them.”