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Urban/Rural Divide Mucking Up the Works in Kansas Senate Tax Committee

Photo by Stephen Koranda

A divide between rural and urban lawmakers appears to be holding up work in the Senate’s tax committee. The panel has had two meetings where there was little agreement on tax plans. As Stephen Koranda reports, lawmakers are looking for ways to fill a budget gap of more than $400 million.

Senator Jeff Melcher is a Republican from Leawood in Johnson County. He says the Johnson County lawmakers on the tax committee will not support any major tax plans until another issue is settled.

He’s been pushing for increasing property taxes on agricultural land, or adding a property tax of $3 per acre on all land, because Melcher says rural areas are not paying their fair share in taxes.

“The cities are still going to pay the bulk of it, and the agricultural areas are going to still get a disproportionately very good deal, but we’re OK with that. We just don’t want to pick up the entire tab. We’re going to pay for the food and drinks, you pick up the tip,” says Melcher.

Not surprisingly, agricultural groups are opposed. The Kansas Farm Bureau called the $3 per acre tax an “unconstitutional assault on agriculture.”

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