Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Brownback pushes for tax cuts during panel discussion in New York

— Gov. Sam Brownback says a scared public is ready to embrace change, such as his proposed overhaul of the Kansas tax code.

Participating on a tax discussion panel Tuesday in New York, Brownback said people want "bold solutions." He said, "The public is scared now. They are scared for the future of their country."

The nine-member panel hosted by the George W. Bush Presidential Center consisted of conservative economists and Fox television's John Stossel.

Stossel said that maybe Kansans were scared but New York's Upper West Side wasn't.

But James Glassman, founding executive director of the Center's Bush Institute, and facilitator of the discussion, borrowed Brownback's words in his closing remarks, saying that perhaps the time was ripe for bold policy solutions.

The title of the discussion was "Tax policies for 4 percent growth: Blitz solutions." It was streamed live on the internet.

Brownback, the only elected official on the panel, used the platform to push for his tax-cutting proposals before the Kansas Legislature.

Brownback, a Republican, has proposed phasing out the state income tax and removing taxes on income for nearly 200,000 businesses, including sole proprietor, partner or Subchapter-S corporations.

His plan would keep in place the 6.3 percent state sales tax, which under current law is set to decrease to 5.7 percent in 2013, and remove numerous deductions and tax credits.

Democrats and some Republicans have opposed the proposal, saying it would take revenue away from education, social services and public safety. They have proposed a lower-cost plan aimed at reducing property taxes.

The House and Senate have both approved measures that reduce tax rates and eliminate the income tax for some businesses. Negotiators are expected to work on a compromise later this month when the Legislature reconvenes.

"I'm hopeful we can get it through," Brownback said.

Brownback said his overhaul was needed to make Kansas more competitive. "I'm tired of getting beat by Texas," he said.

During the discussion, Brownback also said cutting state spending was also critical and he defended his veto last year of state funding for the arts.

While in New York, Brownback and Kansas Commerce Secretary Pat George also met with several Fortune 500 businesses interested in doing business in Kansas, the governor's office said.