Kansas GOP treasurer candidates Tyson and Johnson locked in tax policy dispute

TOPEKA — Republican candidates for state treasurer Caryn Tyson and Steven Johnson closed their primary campaigns by launching impassioned guilt-driven attacks over passing massive tax hikes during their years in office. the Kansas Legislature.

Tyson, a state senator from Parker, responded vigorously to the latest ad campaign from Johnson, a state representative from Assaria. Johnson’s blitz on Tyson and his response was sparked in the long race of the 2022 primary, with Republicans deciding on Tuesday which of the two will face Democratic State Treasurer Lynn Rogers in November.

The ubiquitous voice narrating Johnson’s announcement touched on GOP talking points about rising inflation and high gas prices before declaring ‘the last thing we need is Caryn’s tax hike. Tyson as state treasurer. Tyson was the architect of the biggest tax hikes in Kansas history.

Tyson, who responded by alleging Johnson was removed as House tax chairman for his “tax and spending policies,” is chairman of the Senate tax committee.

“My opponent is desperate,” said Tyson, who called Johnson a liar three times in a press release. “He lies and tries to blame me for things he actually did in the Legislative Assembly. The Kansans deserve honesty, not a candidate like my opponent who leaked his record for the entire campaign.

Rep. Steven Johnson, left, a Republican from Assaria and GOP candidate for state treasurer, accused his main rival, Sen. Caryn Tyson, in a campaign ad of being “the architect of two major tax increases. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

Johnson’s ad highlighted Tyson’s role on the six-person bipartisan House and Senate negotiating committees that crafted two bills to raise state taxes while Republican Sam Brownback was governor.

She was on the conference committee that crafted a 2015 bill eagerly signed by Brownback and on the conference committee that crafted a 2017 bill approved by lawmakers despite Brownback’s veto.

Tyson voted against both bills in the Senate. Johnson served on one of the tax conference committees, as a House representative, but voted for both bills.

Rob Fillion, Johnson’s campaign manager, said Tyson was the common denominator in House-Senate negotiations over tax bills. As a member of conference committees, Fillion said, Tyson agreed to send the reform bills to the House and Senate floors. Both have passed through GOP-controlled chambers.

“Caryn Tyson was the architect of the two largest tax increases in Kansas history, writing crippling tax hikes for Kansas families,” Fillion said. “Caryn Tyson’s tax increase ad and case is accurate.”

In 2015, Tyson voted against it and Johnson voted for House Bill 2109, which raised the state sales tax from 6.15% to 6.5% on purchases, including groceries, on demand by Brownback. It was estimated at the time that the law would increase state tax revenue by more than $380 million annually.

The maneuver was an attempt by Brownback and other Republicans to offset the steep decline in state revenue since 2012 that resulted from implementing his economic “experiment” with supply-side trickle-down policy. . Central to his plan to expand the Kansas economy was the elimination of state income tax.

Tyson also voted against and Johnson voted for the 2017 bill repealing much of Brownback’s tax program, including an unpopular policy that allowed LLCs to avoid corporate income tax. state since 2012. The bill increased personal tax rates to 3.1% (from 2.9%), 5.25% (from 4.9%) and 5.7% (from 5. 2%), depending on taxable income.

The fix, initially denied by Brownback, was passed by a two-thirds majority in the GOP Legislature and brought stability to the state government budget with the promise of more than $500 million a year new income.

During the 2022 legislative session, the House and Senate and Democratic Governor Laura Kelly agreed to a three-year plan to eliminate the state’s 6.5% sales tax on groceries. Kelly favored an immediate end to the food sales tax, but Republicans insisted on the phased approach.

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