Sales Tax About Politics Not Economics Or Education
By: Dave Trabert
December 20, 2011
Word Count: 239

Earlier this month, much was written of State Senator Carolyn McGinn's proposal to end last year's sale tax increase early. The primary justification for that tax increase was to give more money to schools. According to the Kansas Department of Education, state aid to schools went up $94 million last year, from $2.868 billion to $2.962 billion. KSDE also reports that districts' operating carryover cash balance (total less capital and debt) increased by $85 million, from $775 million to $860 million. (Districts also reported $8 million carryover in their Activity funds, which wasn't reported previously).

90% of increased state aid was used to increase cash reserves. The tax increase clearly wasn't needed. Even worse, it cost jobs. Legislators were given two independent academic studies, from KU and WSU that said increasing the sales tax would cost a few thousand private sector jobs, mostly in jobs that wouldn't be created. Sure enough, Kansas has the worse private sector job creation in the country this year and is the only state whose average annual private sector employment (through October) is below its 2010 average.

The sales tax implementation was driven by politics, not sound economic principles. It certainly didn't get to Kansas students as most of it was put into the bank. Sadly, that is too often the case in Kansas and in Washington - politics being put before providing an effective education and allowing more Kansans to find good paying jobs.