Republican gubernatorial candidate Derek Schmidt is proposing the elimination of the state tax on personal care products, an idea that Democratic lawmakers pushed through a resistant GOP-controlled legislature.
Schmidt and his running mate, Katie Sawyer, announced their policy stance Tuesday after touring the Giving the Basics facility in Kansas City, Kan.
“Joe Biden’s inflation hurts everyone, and the truth is that Laura Kelly continues to make everyday life less affordable for Kansans,” Schmidt said in a statement. “Other governors in our region, both Democrats and Republicans, have stepped up and made it a priority to provide relief to young women, mothers and families. Kansas should also make their daily lives more affordable. is what our plan will do.”
The proposal would eliminate state sales tax on diapers and feminine hygiene products, including tampons, panty liners, menstrual cups and sanitary napkins.
“This is a tax policy that will not only provide much-needed relief to Kansas families who need it right now, but is also based on fairness and common sense,” Sawyer said in a statement. . “We already exempt everyday items such as prescription drugs and eyeglasses. Diapers and feminine hygiene products are equally essential. This plan is pro-women, pro-mothers and pro-family.”
Schmidt estimates the plan would cost state coffers about $11.5 million a year in taxpayer savings, because that was the tax cost of similar legislation in Iowa.
Colorado and Nebraska are also among the 22 states that receive such tax relief.
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Republicans blocked similar legislation from Democrats
“I’ve had this idea before,” Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, told reporters after a workforce development announcement in Topeka. “So I think it’s a great idea, and one that we had already planned to do.”
Rep. Vic Miller, D-Topeka, sponsored HB 2461 and pre-filed the bill before the January session began. It would also have eliminated the state sales tax on hygiene products.
He had a hearing before the House Tax Committee in February with 19 supporters and no opponents, but received no further action and died in committee when the Republican-led legislature adjourned in May.
“It was a good idea then, I think it’s a good idea now,” Miller said, while noting that his bill goes further than Schmidt’s proposal.
“I would have appreciated his support at that time, and I would think it was much less of a political gimmick for him if he had been supportive in the hearing rather than a few months before an election,” Miller said. .
Miller’s legislation encompassed a broader, gender-neutral definition of hygiene products and was not limited to feminine products. The Kansas Department of Revenue estimated the bill would cost $18.7 million per year.
“The philosophy is the same, and these are things that people need to be hygienic,” Miller said. “To me, it’s the same principle as removing sales tax from food. These are necessary items, and we shouldn’t be taxing items that people need to have.”
The idea was also part of a 2020 tax package, HB 2491, from House Democrats that never got a hearing.
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Derek Schmidt’s second tax proposal
The plan is the second tax proposal from Schmidt’s gubernatorial campaign. The other, dubbed “Retire Tax Free,” would eliminate tax on Social Security benefits, pensions, and other retirement income.
Senate Republicans adopted a similar idea championed by Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, in 2021 as part of a broader tax package. The House Republican leadership never introduced the bill.
A twin proposal made it a tax package at conference committees this session. That package passed 27-0 in the Senate on the last day of the session after House Republicans effectively killed the bill. The only explanation was that “some priorities had changed”.