Food sales tax debate to kick off second day of veto session

TOPEKA, (KSNT) — Kansas lawmakers returned to the State House to kick off the final days of the 2022 legislative session.

They plan to tackle major issues, including a proposal to reduce the state’s heavy food sales tax. According to Democratic House Leader Tom Sawyer, Rep. Jim Gartner, a Democrat from Topeka, introduced a motion to bring the food sales tax bill, HB 2487, to debate, which is expected to begin tomorrow.

“Today, Rep. Jim Gartner introduced a motion to have HB 2487, a bipartisan bill, removed from the House Tax Committee and above The Line for a vote,” Sawyer said. “We hope our colleagues in the House will support this motion and work with us to eliminate the sales tax on food.”

HB 2487 eliminates the 6.5% state food sales tax, setting the new rate at 0%. However, some Republicans have expressed opposition to the proposal, citing plans to spend responsibly.

“We want to take a look at years and longevity and make sure we’re not going too far too fast,” Republican House Tax Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Smith said, speaking to Kansas. Capitol Bureau in January. “…I try to act with caution and make sure we are responsible.”

Republicans also criticized Kelly for vetoing a measure in 2019 that called for a phased reduction in the food sales tax. A proposal that was endorsed by Republicans at a joint House and Senate Fiscal Conference committee in March also pushed again for a phased reduction. According to the plan, the food sales tax would be reduced to 4% next year, then to 2% in 2024, before dropping completely in 2025.

Some Democrats have spoken out against the plan, pushing to cut the food sales tax now with rising state revenues. Sawyer reiterated those thoughts in a press release Monday.

“The money is there and the Kansans want it to happen,” Sawyer said. “We need to get to a 0% state sales tax on food now – there’s no time to lose. Kansans are feeling the pressure of high inflation and high gasoline prices. It shouldn’t be political. At the very least, they should allow for a vote and debate. If they think it’s a bad bill, they should say so.

Sallie R. Loera