Friday, January 13, 2012

Maybe I should have stayed away...

I know, I know. I've been radio silent of late. Well, if we're FB friends (or, gasp, real life friends!), you know that my home computer has been a little under the weather. I got a nasty, nasty trojan malware thingie that would not let me access ANY executable file. This sucker was so evil, it even deleted (or at least thoroughly hid) my antivirus software. It took a few days before a friend came over and finally freed my computer from the trojan's evil clutches. So now my computer is fully functional again. And just in time for me to work all weekend. Joy!

But I've had plenty to talk about this week. Which made the computer thing a tad annoying. Gov. Brownback gave his state of the state address. I can always rant about something related to Rick Santorum. There were a couple of interesting US Supreme Court cases this week. I will probably get around to some of that this weekend while I work.

I'll start with the Kansas governor's recently revealed proposal for overhauling our state's tax code. I knew I wouldn't like it. I knew it would be appalling and completely contrary to anything that has actually worked for an economy like Kansas. But I have to admit, it does accomplish a pretty impressive feat.

The governor is proposing reducing the tax rate on all income above $30,000. So he's playing it like anyone who earns more than that amount will pay less in income tax. But that's not really true. Because at the same time, he is advocating eliminating virtually all income tax deductions. So those lucky parents making less than $30k? They would no longer be able to claim the earned income tax credit. Which would actually increase their tax burden. And all of us who get to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes and student loan interest wouldn't be able to do so anymore. I'm about to do my taxes for this year. When I do them, I will also try to calculate how these proposed changes would affect me. I don't think I will be pleased. And finally, the sales tax increase that was approved last year on the condition that it would phase out after one year? The governor would like to keep that around. Indefinitely.

When you actually break down the proposal, it sure appears that the governor has managed to create a tax plan that would both raise taxes on most people while also reducing the state's overall income tax revenue. That took some work to come up with. Meanwhile, of course, altering the state's income tax plan this radically undoubtedly means that the tax burden will shift to local taxes, like sales tax and property taxes. Let me tell you, I am really excited about having to pay state income tax on the property tax I pay on my house while also watching that property tax amount increase because the county will need to compensate for the decrease in its share of state income tax revenue.

And somehow, the governor tells us he is just sure that this plan will be our state's path to prosperity. What he can't tell us is how exactly a plan that screws over this state's workers, families, and consumers will do that. Undoubtedly because he can't. Because it won't.

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