Senate President Morris to form tax study committee; wants citizen input

Kansas Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, is forming a bi-partisan group that will include citizen input to study options for reducing taxes.

The group will include state senators and members of the public and be charged with creating a more business-friendly environment, Morris said.

"Right now, there are a lot of ideas being floated around, but what they all seem to be missing is citizen input," Morris said. "This isn't something that should be done behind closed doors by a bunch of bureaucrats," he said.

The administration of Gov. Sam Brownback, also a Republican, is working on a tax proposal that will be forwarded to the Legislature when the legislative session starts in January. Brownback's Kansas Department of Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan is leading that effort but those discussions and deliberations have not been open to the public. Brownback has said he wants to cut state income taxes.

Morris said he expected several proposals to be up for consideration, including Brownback's, ones that have been proposed in the past by various legislators, and others.

Morris said public input is crucial in devising ways to lower taxes.

"One of the reasons Washington got itself into so much trouble is because they listened to special interest groups instead of the folks on Main Street," he said. "We're not willing to let those same mistakes be made in Kansas," he said.

State Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita, and chair of the Senate tax committee, will serve as chair of the tax study group. Others named to the group include state Sens. Dick Kelsey, R-Goddard, Jeff Longbine, R-Emporia, and Vickie Schmidt, R-Topeka. Morris said he will invite Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka to appoint a member.

Public members of the study group will be named once the legislative session starts, he said. The group will be tasked with making a recommendation to the Senate tax committee for action.

By Scott Rothschild

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