Sebelius: Tax hike may be needed
Chris Grenz Capital-Journal
By Chris Grenz
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who throughout her gubernatorial campaign and the legislative session said a tax increase wasn’t on the table, said Thursday a tax increase might be necessary next session.
The governor still hopes to find ways to make government more efficient as a first line of defense. But to keep pace with funding already authorized by the Legislature, Kansans may need to pay more in taxes, she said.
“I am determined to find every possible savings and efficiency we can throughout state government before we look at imposing any new taxes on Kansans,” she said. “At this point, no decisions have been made about any new package of revenues and any new package of funding. But I’d just say everything is on the table as we move toward the ’05 budget year.”
The comments marked a sharp digression from her position for more than a year.
Senate President Dave Kerr, R-Hutchinson, lost his gubernatorial bid in the primary after suggesting a tax increase might be necessary. On Thursday, he said there was “skepticism” about whether Sebelius could keep her campaign promises to hold public education and higher education harmless and build all the roads promised under the transportation program without a tax increase.
“I guess I’m surprised that she would make this dramatic a shift so soon after she was elected, Kerr said. I mean, we aren’t even a year into this administration. These were very firm promises,” Kerr said.
“I have to be honest and say that I think she is just reversing positions in one of the worst cases of neglecting campaign promises that we’ve seen in Kansas,” he said.
The Kansas Department of Transportation is projected to be about $350 million in the hole by fiscal 2009. However, the agency can manage through the deficit while building all the roads promised, said Jim McLean, director of public affairs and special assistant to KDOT Secretary Deb Miller. But the Legislature is scheduled to authorize another sales tax transfer of $179 million next session.
“If we lose any more money, projects will be in jeopardy,” McLean said. “I think that you have to at least discuss a motor fuels tax increase, but I wouldn’t say that’s the first option.”
Additionally, schools are being funded at the per-pupil rate approved in 2001, an act that reorganized higher education is underfunded by more than $100 million, and cities and counties have lost more than $100 million in promised revenue sharing.
“I think that there is every belief that we need some additional revenue in Kansas for some of the promises that the Legislature has made over the years that aren’t being kept,” Sebelius said.
Chris Grenz can be reached
at (785) 296-3005
Please see TAX, Page 3C
Continued from Page 1C
Tax: KDOT, education areas of fiscal concern
Hear Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Sen. Dave Kerr discuss their appetite for a tax increase.
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