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Kansas homeowners fight Brownback plan to end tax

Wednesday - 2/20/2013, 10:50pm  ET

JOHN HANNA
Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Brian Jones has been an admirer of Republican Sam Brownback's fiscal conservatism going back to Brownback's days as an anti-tax congressman in the 1990s. But now the real estate company owner from southeast Kansas finds himself in the odd position of fighting hard against the governor's plan for phasing out the state income tax.

Brownback has been lionized by the GOP right for trying to end the personal income tax, something not accomplished by any state in more than 30 years. In his two years in office, he has aimed to make Kansas a national testing ground for conservative theories about economic prosperity.

But the push, which he began with a 24 percent cut in the top rate, now depends on wiping out deductions claimed by more than 300,000 homeowners. He suddenly confronts the conundrum that just because taxpayers want to get rid of taxes doesn't mean they're ready to give up favorite tax breaks.

"All of a sudden, on this one, he just kind of went off the deep end," Jones declared at a recent Statehouse rally against Brownback's proposals. The Kansas Association of Realtors spent $195,000 in January alone on ads against the idea, which the group charges would slam the industry as well as people eager to own their own homes.

The governor insists that everyone will save in the long run. But his latest tax proposals are now stuck in the Republican-controlled Legislature, and some of his allies are worried they could be changed or, even worse, enacted in a way that would trigger drastic cuts to state programs, especially schools, potentially discrediting his vision.
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