Kansas Governor Sam Brownback pointed to how Kansas is a state in transition as he revealed his pro-growth tax reform plan during his State of the State speech tonight.
"A year ago we met here facing two enormous challenges---a stagnant economy with fewer Kansans employed - and a big budget deficit. Many states across the country were struggling, but in 2010, Kansas ranked among the worst in private sector job creation. Working together, we acted," Gov. Brownback told the Kansas Legislature.
Brownback said their work to reform state government and apply fiscally conservative principles to the state's finances is why now Kansas is considered one of the ten best managed states in the country.
"Still, the economy remains one of our most pressing issues. While there are certainly factors a state cannot control when it comes to its economy, taxes are one area we do control. And when it comes to taxes, we have some of the highest in the region. This hurts our economic growth and job creation," Governor Brownback said. "To address this, I'm proposing a major step in overhauling our state tax code to make it fairer, flatter, and simpler."
The Governor's tax plan will lower individual income tax rates for all Kansans. It brings the highest tax rate down from 6.45 percent to 4.9 percent, the second lowest in the region - and lowers the bottom tax bracket to 3 percent. His plan also eliminates individual state income tax on most small business income.
Brownback said it also is time to level the playing field and simplify state taxes by eliminating income tax credits, deductions, and exemptions ─ while expanding assistance to low-income Kansans through programs that are more effective and accountable.
"I firmly believe these reforms will set the stage for strong economic growth in Kansas -- and will put more money into the pockets of Kansas families and businesses. Growth that will allow us to further reduce tax rates and increase our competitiveness. Growth that will see people move to Kansas instead of leaving our state."
The ultimate goal of the Governor's pro-growth tax plan is to unleash the Kansas economy by making state tax policy more competitive nationally and globally. This will increase net personal income and private sector employment while reducing unemployment and the number of children living in poverty.
Governor Brownback also announced his proposed Fiscal Year 2013 budget provides for an ending balance of $465 million, exceeding the 7.5% statutory requirement.
The budget fully funds or increases funding for essential services while holding State General Fund expenditures below last year's levels and reduces spending for the state's All Funds for the second year in a row. The Governor will submit his FY 2012 budget to the Kansas Legislature tomorrow.