Mo. billionaire tied to Kan. anti-income tax group
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A Kansas group’s public campaign to eliminate the state’s income taxes has received financial support from a billionaire in Missouri who’s funding a similar effort in his home state.
Travis Brown, the president of a group hoping to get an income tax measure on the ballot in Missouri, said Rex Sinquefield contributed recently to Kansans for No Income Tax, The Kansas City Star reported Wednesday.
Brown, whose group is called Let Voters Decide, did not disclose the size of Sinquefield’s donation. A spokeswoman for Sinquefield, a St. Louis businessman, did not return a call seeking comment from The Associated Press.
The disclosure comes with the Kansas group preparing to start a two-day bus tour to five cities, starting with an event Friday at the Statehouse in Topeka. Also, Gov. Sam Brownback is close to releasing a tax plan that’s expected to include income tax cuts.
Sinquefield has given millions of dollars to conservative candidates and causes in Missouri. He supports eliminating Missouri’s income tax and replacing it with a higher state sales tax on a wider variety of goods and services.
He contributed $1.3 million last month to Let Voters Decide. He also gave the same group $11 million last year in a successful campaign to amend the Missouri Constitution to force regular votes in Kansas City and St. Louis on repealing those cities’ earning taxes and ban such taxes elsewhere, though voters in the two cities ultimately kept their taxes in place.
Brown wouldn’t disclose how much Sinquefield has contributed to Kansans for No Income Tax but said, “He’s obviously supported it.”
“We will support any organization that is serious about ending their state income tax,” Brown told The Star.
The Kansas group’s president, Ashley McMillan, a former executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, wouldn’t confirm or deny a Sinquefield contribution to her group.
“We receive support from a lot of different entities,” she said.
Sinquefield also is president of the Show-Me Institute, a Missouri research and policy group that says on its website that its goal is “advancing liberty with responsibility by promoting market solutions.” A biography of Sinquefield there says he was co-founder and former co-chairman of an investment advising firm that managed more than $100 billion in funds.
Kansans for No Income Tax isn’t a political action committee and isn’t registered as a lobbying group. Instead, it’s a nonprofit “social welfare” corporation organized under the federal tax code. Contributions are unlimited, and donors can be kept secret.
“It is a concern,” said Joan Wagnon, chairwoman of the Kansas Democratic Party. “You want to know who’s pushing an initiative, and who stands to gain, and who stands to lose.”
Unlike Missouri, Kansas does not allow voters to put issues directly on the ballot. Instead, the Kansans for No Income Tax campaign will have to build public pressure on legislators.
But there’s already significant interest in income tax cuts in the GOP-controlled Kansas Legislature.
Earlier this year, the House approved a bill that would reduce corporate income taxes and phase out individual income taxes as the state’s overall tax revenues grow. However, the measure didn’t get a vote in committee in the Senate, after critics worried it would starve public schools, social services and other programs of money and hurt poor families disproportionately by shifting the burden of financing programs to the state’s sales tax.
But backers of eliminating income taxes believe it will create economic growth and make Kansas more competitive with other states in luring businesses and new residents.
The Kansans for No Income Tax bus tour begins at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the Statehouse, with stops at noon in Leavenworth and 3 p.m. in Lenexa. On Saturday, the bus is scheduled to be in Pittsburg at 9 a.m. and in Wichita at 3 p.m.