Gov. Brownback is making a bold move to try to eliminate income taxes in the state of Kansas.

Gov. Brownback is making a bold move to try to eliminate income taxes in the state of Kansas.

Brownback is claiming his cuts eventually will grow the economy, but the income tax cuts may cost poor and middle class Kansans.

The governor signed a substantial decrease in state income taxes last year — a cut that will leave the state with a $267 million budget deficit for the budget year starting in July.

The Department of Revenue’s analysis of this first-year tax reduction indicated the wealthiest Kansans benefited most from this initial income tax cut.

Taxpayers earning more than $250,000 saw a much larger percentage drop in their collective personal income tax burdens than those earning $25,000 or less, according to the department.

The governor’s plan also exempted 191,000 businesses from paying income taxes. This places an unfair burden on those businesses that pay all three taxes — sales, property and income.

The governor’s immediate need is to close the $267 million gap created by last year’s tax plan.

His proposal is to eliminate the mortgage interest tax deduction and the property tax deduction.

Both of these will hit middle class homeowners the hardest.

In addition, the governor proposes making permanent a 6.3 percent sales tax rate, rather than letting it drop to 5.7 percent as was the promise to the Kansas taxpayers when the additional sales tax was approved.

As the governor seeks to eliminate the income tax, the state will have to rely more heavily on sales and property taxes.

Few could argue reliance on sales tax is regressive. Those who have less pay a higher percentage of their income in sales tax than those with higher incomes.

The long-term effects of lowering or eliminating the income tax is debatable.

Earners making $250,000 or more still would see the biggest benefit from income tax cuts over the long haul, seeing their income tax burden drop 60 percent by 2017.

The poorest taxpayers would see a drop of 51 percent in their income tax burden, and taxpayers earning from $75,000 to $100,000 would see a 49 percent drop in their income tax burden.

However, somewhere in the department’s analysis, 279,000 taxpayers earning $25,000 or less where eliminated, that’s a 49 percent drop from the previous year, according to the Associated Press. Why more than 200,000 low-income Kansans were eliminated from the statistics is unknown.

If the governor or the Kansas Legislature can’t agree to hike income and property taxes, the third alternative is to cut funding to state services, including school, mental health, Medicaid and social service programs.

Many of these programs already have seen deep cuts as a result of the recession. Although the lower- and middle-income families would see a reduction in their income tax, program cuts would disproportionately affect families with less income who are more apt to these program.

Brownback has been unable to show any substantial proof that his grand tax plan will reap the economic growth he is promising.

In the mean time, he is playing a game of roulette with the financial stability of those Kansans with the least ability to pay for Brownback’s mistakes.

A balanced, progressive approach to taxes always has been the goal of the Kansas tax system, and this should remain the state’s goal.

— Cristina Janney for The McPherson Sentinel Editorial Board.