Gradual reduction in state sales tax on groceries OK, making the measure effective after election is not

A gradual cut in the state tax rate for grocery purchases might be the best route to take for Kansas state government. 

But waiting until after the Nov. 8 general election to make the legislation effective is not in the best interest of Kansas citizens.

This is what you call a political grandstand move and an attempt by Republican state lawmakers to keep a sitting state governor from the Democratic  Party from being re-elected.

It may very well backfire for Republican state lawmakers up for re-election soon, and it should backfire for them.

In Kansas, we expect our state lawmakers to do the right things all the time - even when it might inconvenience them or jeopardize their own personal political careers.

It’s not right to use political power - just because you can - to work against the best interest of hard-working Kansas citizens.

Leave it to our so-called “state leaders’’ to take a good idea like reducing the state sales tax on groceries and turning it into a power play by not letting a measure (that they approved) take effect until after the gubernatorial election.

Here’s how the political power play went down.

Kansas senators recently passed a Republican Party plan to gradually reduce the state tax on food sales starting after election day, rejecting Democrat Gov. Laura Kelly’s plan to axe the tax on groceries starting as early as this summer.

While Democrat senators initially opposed the plan and objected to the details, the final vote was unanimous.

The vote preceded another vote where Senate Republicans rejected the Democrat plan to cut the food sales tax to 0 percent starting this summer. The 14-23 vote with two Republicans joining all Democrats came on a procedural move.

A day earlier, House Republicans rejected a similar procedural move. Ten Republicans joined Democrats in the attempt to force action on Gov. Kelly’s tax plan.

Advocates from both political parties blame Republican leadership and election year politics for the failure to advance Kelly’s top policy priority of the session.

The plan approved by the Senate, HB 2106, would reduce the state’s current 6.5 percent sales tax on groceries to 4 percent on Jan. 1, 2023, then to 2 percent in 2024 and 0 percent in 2025. 

The Kansas 6.5 percent state tax rate on groceries is the second-highest in the country, it has been reported.

State financial reports show state coffers are currently brimming with surplus revenue at this time. The state is currently projected to have a $3.1 billion budget surplus at the end of fiscal year 2023. Cutting the entire state tax on food sales in the state would reduce tax collections by about $500 million a year, it has been reported.

Retail Grocers Association of Kansas and Missouri president and CEO Jon McCormick said last week that point of sale vendors would have “no problem’’ adjusting the tax rate in time for a July 1 implementation. The gradual reduction is actually more cumbersome, it was reported.

The political posturing involved with this issue was worthy of Washington, D.C. style points. But the problem is, however, that Kansans don’t approve of doing the people’s business that way.

With inflation at its highest levels nationwide since the 1970s, we are seeing record high grocery costs and record high gasoline prices. Kansas citizens purchase groceries every week, if not more often than that. We all could use the state sales tax reduction as soon as possible. 

While state lawmakers are playing power games, the people that placed them in the high offices are working to make financial ends meet.

Gov. Kelly says she will sign the legislation into law and is encouraging state lawmakers to do the right thing and make the measure effective as soon as possible. Let’s hope they do.                       

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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