Chris Woodward | The Center Square contributor
(The Center Square) - A bill that backers say will provide some property tax relief to Kansans was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Laura Kelly.
House Bill 2239 increases the state's exemption for residential property taxes from $20,000 to $40,000 of appraised valuation. The bill also allows some personal property taxes to be prorated and gives county commissioners more authority to abate property taxes in cases of property destroyed by disasters.
"Our fiscal responsibility has put Kansas back on track," the governor said in a press release. "We've been able to fully fund our schools, fix our roads and bridges, balance the budget, and cut property taxes, providing relief for Kansans."
"We have the opportunity to help Kansans who are feeling the impact of pandemic-induced inflation," the governor said. "With the largest budget surplus in decades, we can do both - provide property tax relief and finally eliminate the state sales tax on food."
HB 2239 also enacts the SALT Parity Act, which allows "certain pass-through entities with the option of paying state income taxes at the entity level."
Despite the reforms, Kansas still has a "systemic issue" in its property tax structure, according to Ganon Evans, a policy analyst with the Kansas Policy Institute.
"The bill contains good policies, such as SALT Parity reform, but it continues Kansas's trend of bloated tax incentives," Evans said. "Similarly, the property tax relief doesn't change the systemic issue of Kansas having some of the highest rural property taxes while also fully taxing private retirement plans and out-of-state pensions, (so) the need for long-term reductions is still needed."
Senate President Ty Masterson, R-Andover, said he is "very pleased Kansas taxpayers will benefit from the governor's election year conversion."
House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins, R-Wichita, thinks the legislation was more of a political move than anything else.
"For three years the only time we heard Governor Kelly mention taxes was when she was vetoing tax cuts," Hawkins said. "Now that we are in an election year the Governor is even taking credit for tax cuts that she never previously weighed in on, (so) Kansas taxpayers will not be fooled by Governor Kelly's temporary change of tune."