February 13, 2021
RELIEF ACT – Slowing Government Growth
Senate Bill (SB) 22, also referred to as the RELIEF Act, would allow Kansas taxpayers to keep more of their hard earned money. The bill addresses unintended tax increases that resulted from the 2017 federal tax cuts. The two main items dealing with the federal tax cuts would allow Kansas taxpayers the option to itemize, whether they itemize on their federal return or not and would lower business taxes on offshore earnings brought to Kansas, encouraging businesses to invest in Kansas. The bill also has provisions making it clear that you would not owe income tax on money that was paid to someone who stole your identity, or on paycheck protection money, and business meals would be 100% deductible. It also would allow small businesses to expense some deductions, something corporations in Kansas can do. During debate the bill was amended to remove all income tax on Social Security benefits, and on employment retirement programs (including self-employment), and to increase standard deductions by approximately 20%. The bill passed on a vote of 24 to 15. I voted Yes. The Governor called the bill “irresponsible” and it appears would veto the bill. It is responsible to decrease the burden of taxpayers, especially with the hardships they face.
SB 70 would exclude sales tax on manufacturers coupons and vehicle manufacturer rebates. Currently, you pay sales tax on money you didn’t spend with these coupons. The vehicle manufacturer rebates was sunset after three years and SB 70 would remove the sunset. The bill passed the Senate 26 to 11. I voted Yes.
Expanding Education Options
A unanimous vote sent Senate Bill (SB) 32 to the House for consideration. The bill would expand the option so all high schools could pay a student’s tuition to take college courses. It would also waive the cost for foster care students, allowing them to participate even in a school district that requires the student to pay for all or a portion of any college courses.
SB 61 was somewhat more controversial. It passed the Senate on a vote of 23 to 14. The bill expands the Tax Credit Scholarship Program to include any student (elementary thru high school) qualifying for free and reduced lunches in Kansas the option to participate. Current law only allows participation of students from the 100 lowest preforming elementary schools, which leaves many students out. The Program allows for donations, capped at $10 million, to provide scholarships for students to attend non-traditional schools, like private schools. Donors receive a tax credit for their donation. No government funds are used for the scholarships. One concern with the bill is the auditing, or lack of, on free and reduced lunches because the federal government requires less than 3% of participants be audited. That is correct – less than. It is obvious they do not want accuracy with the lunch program. It is early in the legislative process and the good in the bill far outweighs the questions. The legislation would provide an opportunity for students to attend education institutions that would not be an option and might better suit their needs. I voted Yes on SB 61.
It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your 12th District State Senator.