Brownback touts tax proposal at LCDC gathering
Leavenworth Gov. Sam Brownback, speaking to a development group in Leavenworth on Friday, pointed to his proposed state income tax cuts as a ticket to economic growth.
At the annual meeting of the Leavenworth County Development Corporation, the governor said lower income tax rates would be the best way for the state to attract more residents, businesses and jobs.
“We've got to do this to get competitive,” Brownback said.
Brownback's tax proposal, which he outlined in his State of the State address last week, would lower the maximum personal state income tax rate to 4.9 percent and eliminate individual state income taxes for most small businesses, while also eliminating many tax credits and reductions. The plan was criticized this week after reports showed it would increase taxes for many Kansans.
On Friday the governor, though, said his plan would spark development — especially the income tax cut for small businesses.
“That's the one that causes the growth,” Brownback said. “That's the one that attracts people into the area.”
In fact, during a question-and-answer session, Brownback said he'd like for the state's income tax rates to continue to fall in future years, and a complete elimination of individual income tax would be ideal.
“This is a good step in the right direction,” Brownback said. “It's not near enough.”
He admitted that eliminating the tax altogether would be a difficult proposition, as about 40 percent of the state's general fund receipts currently come from personal income taxes.
President Mike Nixon and executive director Steve Jack of the LCDC, which works to bring businesses to Leavenworth County, said after the governor's talk that a lower state income tax could certainly make it easier to advertise the area to prospective groups. Jack noted, though, that development required a balancing act between tax rates and amenities funded by taxes, including schools and roads, that might also make an area attractive to businesses.
“Somehow, you need state government to do those sort of things to have the kind of communities that companies will come to,” Jack said.
The governor also addressed education during his address, saying he'd like to see more Kansas high school students to be prepared for college or a technical career upon graduation — or perhaps both.
“I'd love to see us graduating kids that work their way through college instead of borrow their way through college,” Brownback said.
If a student could earn certification as a plumber and use it to work him or herself through college, he said, that person could emerge well-rounded and with little debt. To encourage more career readiness, he said he'd like the state to award high schools funding for each student who earns a technical certificate.
When asked about another economic development issue, the alleged “poaching” of businesses between Kansas and Missouri, Brownback said economic competition between the two states would only be good for the region, and he wanted Kansas to be as attractive to businesses as it could be.
“I'm for making this atmosphere in the state of Kansas the most competitive in the country,” Brownback said. “We're not anywhere close to it right now.”