Local democratic candidates gave a presentation Wednesday night featuring Kansas Democratic Party Chair and former Kansas Secretary of Revenue Joan Wagnon. The program focused on the Brownback Tax Plan and included a power point called "Consequences of the Brownback Tax Plan on Public Education and the Economy."
Wagnon began the presentation with an outline of the tax plan and the problems that could result. She said her presentation would focus on the potential impact the tax plan could have on the economy, schools, and senior citizens then the tax itself.
"The conversation tonight needs to be about the consequences of the legislature having adopted the Brownback Tax Plan and the consequences to public education," she said.
Wagnon explained that while all state income tax payers will benefit from the plan's proposed cuts, there will be a dramatic disparity in how the plan affects those in varying income brackets. According to Wagnon, low-income taxpayers, who make up 26 percent of all tax filers, will receive less than two percent of the estimated $717 million tax cut, while the top group will take home 29 percent of the benefit.
Local candidate for 119th State Representative seat and CPA Larry Blake said the only people who are guaranteed to pay income tax are wage earners. Blake stressed plan's "inherent unfairness," focusing on the fact that no other state has crafted a plan that pits wage earners against businesses of all sizes.
To further explain her points, Wagnon invited Bill Hammond, CPA and executive director of business and operation for Dodge City Public Schools, to speak. Hammond, a Republican, advised the group he was speaking as an individual, not as a representative for USD 443 or the board of education. He explained what he calls the "myths of education." Hammond's list of myths included ideas about education funding, money spent in the classroom, and the amount of administration in schools.
Hammond gave examples of cuts the district may have to make if the tax plan is allowed to stand including sports, music and arts programs. Wagnon added that while it may be a couple of years before Kansas residents begin to notice the inequalities in the tax structure, they will notice an increase the number of students per classroom and deferred maintenance on buildings.
"If the public outcry doesn't come out and say 'wait a minute, this is the wrong priorities, the wrong direction, not fair' then nothing happens," she said.
Wagnon went on to describe the election as pivotal and recognized Blake and Democratic candidate for State Senate District 38 Johnny Dunlap as knowledgeable on the effects of Brownback's plan.
"You don't want to send a lot of people to don't understand this problem to solve it," she said. "They understand that this is about kids, it's about communities, it's about making government work. It's not about making political points.