Anti-tax Missouri billionaire contributing to effort to repeal Kansas state income tax

A Missouri billionaire and Ronald Reagan economist are driving the anti- income tax bus in Kansas.

And Gov. Sam Brownback is ready to turn the ignition key.

Brownback says in a video on his Facebook page that he wants a tax system that is “flatter, simpler, fairer.”

“That is going to be a centerpiece issue in the legislative session,” which starts in January, he said.

Coinciding with Brownback’s previous statements to reduce state income taxes is a new group called Kansans for No Income Tax, which will be taking a bus tour Friday and Saturday to spread its message.

The group, led by Republican operatives, is being funded in part by St. Louis anti-tax billionaire Rex Sinquefield, according to the Kansas City Star.

Sinquefield is also working to abolish the state income tax in Missouri and replace it with a higher state sales tax on a wider variety of goods and services.

His spokesman declined to say how much Sinquefield has contributed to the anti- income tax group in Kansas. Since Kansans for No Income Tax is registered as a nonprofit, its donors and how much they gave can be kept secret. In Missouri, Sinquefield contributed $1.3 million to a group seeking to do away with the income tax there. Last year, he contributed $11 million to other initiatives to repeal taxes in Missouri.

Kansas Democrats criticized the involvement of a Missourian in the Kansas tax debate. “KNIT (Kansans for No Income Tax) claims it’s working for the best interest of Kansans. If that were the case, they’d give Rex Sinquefield his donation back,” the party said.

Ashley McMillan, president of Kansans for No Income Tax, said she wouldn’t comment on the Democrats’ suggestion to return the donation.

McMillan said her group enjoys broad support from Kansans as well as like-minded people across the nation. She declined to say how much the group has received in donations and from whom.

Sinquefield is also president of the Show-Me Institute, which describes itself as a think tank that advocates free-market principles.

At the institute’s 2010 open house, economist Arthur Laffer gave the keynote speech. Laffer, who has been hired as a consultant by the Brownback administraiton, gained prominence during the Reagan administration when he served as an economic adviser. He and Brownback espouse tax cuts as a way to generate economic growth.

Laffer helped write the most recent edition of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s “Rich States, Poor States.” The foreword was written by Brownback.

The Brownback administration is paying Laffer $75,000 to help with plans to reform the Kansas tax code.

That plan is being designed behind closed doors but is expected to be rolled out soon after Friday’s new state revenue estimate.

Kansas Democrats and some Republicans have voiced concerns about doing away with the state personal and corporate income tax, saying that would result in cuts to needed services and increase local property and sales taxes.

By Scott Rothschild

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