Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback last week endorsed legislation that would require local governments to lower their property tax rates automatically when assessed valuations increase.
Brownback said the proposed Property Tax Transparency Act, which will be introduced in the 2013 Legislature, is an important complement to a cut in the state income tax rate that will go into effect Jan. 1.
"Kansas families and businesses are taxed every time they turn around," he said. "The next important step we must take to make our state more competitive and to improve the financial well-being of all Kansans is to make tax increases more transparent."
Local units of government with taxing authority that want to increase property tax revenues would be required to vote to increase the mill levy if valuations go up, Brownback said. He was joined by Republican lawmakers at a news conference in Wichita.
Brownback stressed that the state would not be increasing either the fixed 20 mill property tax it collects for school districts or the1.5 mill public property tax.
Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, said local property tax revenue in Kansas rose 93% to $3.8 billion in 2010 from the $1.9 billion collected in 1997.
"This transparency bill will give Kansas property owners confidence that their property taxes aren't going to increase the way they have in the past while still giving local units of government flexibility to increase property taxes if they need more tax money," Wagle said.
Sen. Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said Brownback and Republicans in the 2012 Legislature rejected several attempts by Democratic lawmakers to reduce local property taxes with additional state aid. They opted instead for income tax cuts, he said.
"The governor rejected our proposals and instead bullied through the most reckless, fiscally irresponsible tax scheme our state has ever seen so he could give large tax breaks to the wealthy and big corporations," said Hensley, leader of the Democratic minority in the Senate.
A recent statewide poll found that most Kansans favor lower property taxes rather than cuts in the state income tax rate.
The Kansas Speaks 2012 survey of 4,468 Kansans by the Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University found 52% supported a reduction in local property taxes with 35% wanting lower state income taxes.