Gov. Kelly appoints KASB President Kimball to Council on Tax Reform

KASB President Shannon Kimball, a member of the Lawrence USD 497 school board, has been named by Gov. Laura Kelly to the Governor’s Council on Tax Reform.

“Gov. Kelly has identified supporting public investment in education as an important consideration in creating a stable and fair tax policy for Kansas. I am excited and honored to contribute my years of experience as a school board member and education policy advocate to this important discussion,” Kimball said.

The council will conduct an 18-month, in-depth study and make recommendations to the Legislature on establishing a responsible, fair and sustainable tax structure, Kelly said.

“While Kansas continues to recover from the tax experiment of the prior administration, thereʼs a need for tax reform designed with adequacy, equity and stability in mind,” Kelly said. “I expect the bipartisan Council to deliver sound strategies and reforms that reflect my desire to keep the state tax burden as low as possible, benefiting all Kansans.”

Since half of the state budget goes to K-12 funding, an examination of state taxes is something that school leaders should provide input on and follow closely, Kimball said. “Tax policy is of vital interest to our schools. I encourage public education advocates to closely follow the work of the council over the coming months,” she said.

Kelly has said she wants Kansas to return to the “three-legged stool” approach that relies on a balance of income, sales and property tax revenue to fund state government.

The council will review how best to respond to federal tax law changes, sales tax on groceries, targeted property tax relief and future budget projections. During the past session, Kelly vetoed Republican leadership tax cuts that would have benefitted multinational corporations the most. Kelly said the cuts were irresponsible and an attempt override her veto failed.

Kelly appointed two former veteran legislators to chair the council — former Senate President Steve Morris, a Republican from Hugoton, and Janis Lee, a former Democratic state senator and hearing officer for the Kansas Court of Tax Appeals.

“Steve and Janis understand how important it is to ensure that our tax code supports public investment in areas such as education, public safety and infrastructure needed to help Kansas prosper,” Kelly said.

Other members of the Council appointed by the governor include representatives of the business community, agriculture, economic development and governmental entities.

Also invited to participate were: Republicans Susan Wagle, Senate president, and Ron Ryckman, House speaker; and Democrats Anthony Hensley, Senate minority leader, and Tom Sawyer, House minority leader.

The council’s meeting dates are Sept. 24-25, Oct. 15-16, Nov. 14 and Dec. 3-4.

An interim report by the council is planned for December in advance of the 2020 legislative session. A final report is due in December 2020, in advance of the 2021 legislative session.

Like most states during the Great Recession, state tax collections in Kansas fell off a cliff in 2008 and 2009. But the second shock occurred in 2012 when Gov. Sam Brownback pushed through huge income tax cuts as part of what he called an experiment.

After the Brownback tax cuts, state services, such as child welfare and prisons, suffered from underfunding while reserves were swept up to keep the state budget afloat. In 2017, legislators, in a bi-partisan move, repealed most of the tax cuts and then mustered up two-thirds majorities to overturn Brownback’s veto.

Members of the Governor’s Council on Tax Reform:
Kansas County Treasurers Association: Joe Grisolano, Pittsburg; Crawford County treasurer, former county appraiser and school board member.
Kansas Association of School Boards: Shannon Kimball, Lawrence; school board member and president of the Kansas Association of School Boards.
Kansas Association of Counties: Anthony Swartzendruber, Hesston, Harvey County administrator.
Kansas League of Municipalities: Susan Sherman, Olathe, assistant city manager of Olathe.
Dennis Hays, Kansas City, Kan., former county administrator for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/KCK, currently principal at Hays and Associates, LLC.
Larry Weians, Lenexa, vice president of finance for Sprint.
Lon Frahm, Colby, CEO of Frahm Farmland, Inc.
Carl Brewer, Wichita, retired operations manager at Spirit AeroSystems, former mayor of Wichita.
Duane Goossen, Topeka, former state budget director, secretary of administration, member of the Kansas House.
Audrey Langworthy, Prairie Village, former state senator who served as chair of the Senate Tax Committee.
John Wilson, Lawrence, Kansas Action for Children vice president of advocacy and former Kansas House of Representatives member.
Agencies (all ex-officio members):
Mark Burghart or designee — Secretary of Revenue
David Toland or designee — Secretary of Commerce
Larry Campbell or designee — state budget director
Julie Lorenz or designee — Secretary of Transportation
Legislative leaders (invited):
Susan Wagle, Wichita, Senate president
Ron Ryckman, Olathe, House speaker
Anthony Hensley, Topeka, Senate minority leader
Tom Sawyer, Wichita, House minority leader

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