I went to The Kansas Prosperity Summit 2011 in Topeka, KS today. Organized by FairTaxKC, the event began in the morning with the attendance of the final session of the Joint Interim Tax Committee hearing at the Kansas State Capitol. Before recessing for lunch, Chairman Richard Carlson requested to take a vote to conduct a study to compare Kansas’s tax structure with the structure of those states that do not have a state income tax system. The committee voted in favor of the study.
The main event began at noon at the Topeka Performing Arts Center (TPAC). Emceed by Earl Long, the speakers included Kansas Secretary of State-Elect Kris Kobach, American Legislative Exchange Council Tax and Fiscal Policy Director Jonathan Williams, Kansas Policy Institute Dave Trabert, and Kansas House of Representatives Speaker Pro Tem Arlen Siegfreid. The event focused on pushing the Kansas legislature to adopt the FairTax, a consumption based tax on the sale of new goods or services, as a state tax and eliminate the state income tax.
Secretary-elect Kris Kobach, a constitutional law professor at University of Missouri-Kansas City who helped develop Arizona’s controversial statute requiring aliens to keep documentation in possession, said that the U.S. income tax code created a way for the federal government to regulate activities that it could not otherwise under the 10th Amendment. Mr. Kobach also spoke about how illegal immigrants can’t evade the FairTax like the income tax. He said that, while some illegal immigrants pays income taxes, most illegal immigrants do not, mainly because they get paid in cash. Mr. Kobach said that illegal immigrants cannot evade the FairTax because they must pay the tax on any taxable purchases at the time of sale to the retailer.
Jonathan Williams coauthored Rich States, Poor States, a book that ranks states’ economic performance. Mr. Williams said that the states that rank best do not have a state income tax. The states that rank the worst have high taxes. Kansas ranked 40th in his book. Mr. Williams said that Kansas could improve its ranking by adopting the FairTax. Mr. Williams referred to states as a “laboratory for democracy” and closed his speech with saying “Let’s make Kansas a laboratory for democracy and let’s make Kansas a laboratory for prosperity.”
Dave Trabert said that eliminating the state’s income tax is the key to creating a pro-growth tax plan. Mr. Trabert said that the loss of revenue should be backfilled by eliminating most tax credits and reducing spending.
Speaker Pro Tem Arlen Siegfreid said Kansas needs to spur business growth and business formation. As a result, Speaker Siegfreid said that he intends to introduce the FairTax in the next legislative session. Speaker Siegfreid said that the executive branch currently entices companies to locate to Kansas by providing various tax breaks and that is an indicator that Kansas’s current tax system is not good enough to attract such businesses without additional tax breaks.
The event ended with a question and answer session with a panel of experts on the FairTax. The first few questions dealt with the prebate. The prebate is a monthly check sent to all households as an advanced reimbursement for the amount of FairTax paid on purchases up to the households’ proverty levels. In answering a different question, a panel emphasized that FairTax supporters must educate their circle of influence about the FairTax.
I have posted photos of the event on the FairTax Push Facebook fan page.