Bill promises cheaper food for Kansas families

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A new bill promises to put more food on your table and more money in your pocket. On Monday, Kansas lawmakers discussed lowering the sales tax on food. 

Changing the food sales tax is an idea Kansas lawmakers have been talking about for years. Now a house bill introduced by Representative Steven Johnson aims to do just that, bringing the state food sales taxes down from 6.5% to 5.5%. 

“Many of us would agree that we’d like to see the food sales tax in Kansas lowered relative to other states. The big challenge is how to do it,” Johnson said.  

According to ‘Kansas Action for Children’ Kansas has the second highest sales tax on food in the country.

Cherie Thomas-Schenker owns a farm in rural Kansas and runs a small grocery store right along the Missouri border. Because Missouri has a lower food sales tax she told us she has to compete with stores there.

“What it would mean if this was lowered? It would mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional sales tax for counties in borders all around the state, because when people hop a border to go buy groceries, they perceive they’re saving money, but they’re just saving sales tax,” Thomas-Scenker said. 

She added that this bill wouldn’t just be good for her business, it would also really help the people in her community and in communities across the state. 

“Let’s say they can add an extra pint of strawberries or an extra head of lettuce to the table. Something besides processed food because right now processed food is cheaper than healthy food,” Thomas-Scenker said. 

John Donley from the Kansas Farm Bureau disagrees. He said this bill isn’t the best way to help out families in need and worries this type of tax would fundamentally change the state’s entire tax system.

“Many legislators campaigned on reducing the state sales tax on food. However we just wanted to bring a good tax policy discussion into the room so that they can make the decision with their eyes wide open,” Donley said.  

Representative Johnson said if this bill passes it would mean the state would lose around $65 million in revenue.

When we asked lawmakers in support of this bill how they would make that money up, they told they  were still working on a solution.

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