Gov. Laura Kelly selected two former members of the Kansas Senate on Thursday to lead a task force being assembled by the governor to weigh options for changing the state's tax system.
Steve Morris, a moderate Republican from Hugoton, and Janis Lee, a Democrat from Kensington, agreed to co-chair the Governor's Council on Tax Reform. Within several weeks, the governor plans to appoint other members and issue an executive order outlining her vision for the search of a fiscally responsible, fair and sustainable tax structure.
Morris and Lee served more than 20 years in the Senate. Morris presided as president for eight years. Lee was ranking Democrat on the Senate's tax committee and later was a hearing officer for the Kansas Court of Tax Appeals.
"I know Steve and Janis share my desire to keep the state tax burden as low as possible," Kelly said. "They also understand how important it is to ensure that our tax code supports public investment in areas such as education, public safety and infrastructure needed to help Kansas prosper."
Tax policy was a central issue of the 2019 legislative session because of Kelly's veto of two bills passed by the House and Senate, which failed to override the governor. Both bills would have enabled multinational corporations to avoid state income tax when returning foreign income to Kansas and would have trimmed the state's 6.5 percent state sales tax on food.
Kelly said the council should proceed with caution, because of uncertainty about the economy, in the quest for opportunities to build a "sensible tax system that benefits Kansans who need it the most, and ultimately all Kansans."