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Gov. Laura Kelly announces plans to “axe” state’s food tax

On Monday, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) announced her office would be drafting legislation that...
On Monday, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) announced her office would be drafting legislation that would cut the state's sales tax on groceries.
Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 11:26 AM CST
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Governor Laura Kelly announced that she will be introducing a bill in the Kansas Legislature to “Axe the Food Tax,” and eliminate the state sales tax on food in Kansas.

In a news conference Monday morning Kelly pointed out that Kansas is one of seven states in the nation that fully taxes groceries. She said Kansas’ food sales tax rate is 6.5%, the second-highest rate in the country, and under her soon-to-be proposed legislation a Kansas family of 4 will save an average of $500 or more on their grocery bill every year under.

The plan would eliminate sales tax on food purchased at Kansas grocery stores and farmers’ markets.

Kelly said the tax cuts won’t effect the state’s budget “thanks to the fiscally responsible decisions we made before and during the pandemic.”

Kelly added, “this tax cut will put money back in Kansans’ pockets and create real savings for those who need it most.”

“Taxing a family’s grocery bill is one of the most widespread and unfair things a state can ask of its residents – a fact that’s been recognized since the tax on food was first put in place in the 1930s. And yet it’s a tax that is paid by every person in Kansas,” House Democratic Leader Tom Sawyer said. “Over the years, the tax on food has been increased 10 times – from an initial 2 percent to 6.5 percent today. Throughout that time, there has been much talk about the unfairness of this tax, but until now, it’s been all talk. Thanks to Governor Kelly’s fiscal responsibility, the Kansas economy is booming, and Kansans will finally get the tax relief they deserve.”

The governor said her bill will be introduced during the 2022 Legislative session. During Monday’s announcement, Governor Kelly called on lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to get a clean bill through the legislature and onto her desk as quickly as possible.

The governor told reporters that if passed, the new tax law could go into effect as soon as July 1, 2022.

According to the Governor’s estimates, the legislation would equate to about $450 million per year in lost revenue.

On Friday, Attorney General Derek Schmidt called on the Legislature to eliminate or significantly reduce the grocery sales tax.

“Cutting the grocery sales tax has had bipartisan support since long before Laura Kelly was governor. It’s true that she campaigned on this in 2018, and it’s also true that three years into her administration she has completely failed to deliver on that promise,” Schmidt said in a statement. “Now more than ever with the cost of living increasing at record levels because of the reckless spending in DC, we need a governor who will get the job done for Kansas families, not just make campaign speeches.”

Schmidt is Kelly’s presumed opponent in the 2022 Kansas Governor’s race.

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