Don Hineman and Tom Moxley

(Don) Good morning I’m Don Hineman, a farmer from Dighton and state representative. I’m here at the Ag Issues Breakfast put on by all of the agriculture commodity groups in Kansas having pancakes and sausage and talking about ag issues. (Tom) It’s a great opportunity, I’m Tom Moxley from Council Grove. I represent Morris, Chase and a lot of Geary County and we’re here to learn what’s going on in the rest of the state from other ag producers so you feel, so you get a feel for how the wheats going, how the other crops are progressing, just to get input from other farmers and ranchers about the policies that we are dealing with and how they are going to affect them. (Don) Well, one hot topic right now is taxes. The state has a big hole in the budget. It’s pretty obvious we’re not going to make up all of that hole with budget cuts. We’re going to need new revenue. So in the Budget Committee, we’re looking at just about every option you can think of. And a number of the possibilities that are being considered would be a hit on agriculture and that’s really got the folks in this room concerned this morning, as well as me. (Tom) It is. There’s so many ways that agriculture can be hit, because it is the largest industry in Kansas, so whether the people here decide to go for property taxes or sales taxes or some kind of use tax, all of the things will really hit agriculture. And we have a pretty… because the deficit is so great, legislators are looking for ways to fill that hole that does not affect their constituents. And in rural Kansas today we’re getting outnumbered in numbers here in the statehouse. (Don) Well this breakfast this morning is a great event that we have year and it’s a chance for producers from back home to come to Topeka and feed us a breakfast. And many of the urban legislators do show up for this and visit with farmers and ranchers from back home. And that’s a great opportunity to meet one-on-one. Yesterday we had a hearing in the tax committee about imposing a tax on ethanol. And the hearing room was filled with producers and ethanol plant operators who testified against that bill and did a great job of making the case that that tax would really be devastating to the ethanol industry and to agriculture in general. That’s really valuable to have folks from home show up and plead their case before the legislature. (Tom) Probably one of the big factors we had two tax plans in 2012 and 2013 that really demolished a lot of our revenue, to the tune of about a billon dollars this year. And that’s all well and good because that money stayed out and is good for the populous. However, the spending didn’t stop and so we have that same kind of a deficit to refill now. And there are many sources for that money. We have cut the income tax, but as Don has noted to say, we came to rely upon the three legged stool of sales, income, and property tax. And there’s an effort in the statehouse to limit and reduce the income tax portion of that. Well, that’s gonna put the pressure back on sales and property. We clearly want a fair and broad tax if we’re gonna have any tax. And if you target it as would happen with changing the use value, you’re gonna just target rural farms, value ranches and landowners and that’s not a broad tax, that’s not a fair tax. So, many of us would oppose that option but it remains to be seen whether that one will surface at the end of the session. (Don) I think there’s a growing recognition that the tax cut of 2012 really went too far and too fast and many folks are saying we need to go back and do some surgery on that tax cut bill and reduce the impact. Personally I think that’s our best approach and I hope we can get there. There’s growing talk in the statehouse that maybe that would be a viable option.

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