In his campaign, Democratic Party candidate for Congress Raj Goyle says he has voted to cut taxes 50 times. Examination of the record shows some genuine votes against taxes, but also examples of voting with the herd, and some votes that actually increase taxes on most Kansans.
On Goyle’s campaign website, we can read these words: “He is a proven fiscal conservative who voted to cut government spending and lower taxes on middle class families and small businesses every year he has been in office. Other candidates talk about cutting taxes, but Raj has done it. In just four years, he has voted to cut $500 million in wasteful government spending and voted more than 50 times to relieve Kansans of a total of $900 million in taxes.”
Other material on his site promotes his “record of bipartisanship and fiscal responsibility.” So an examination of his votes against taxes is in order.
The record of tax cut votes claimed by Goyle is on his campaign website at the page Pompeo distorts Goyle’s record on taxes. Some votes, such as his vote against the statewide sales tax increase that took effect on July 1, are actual votes against increased taxes. To which I say — even though it’s widely believed that this vote was election-year window dressing during a campaign for Congress — thank you.
Some of the measures Goyle voted for passed nearly unanimously. In these cases, these votes are simply him following the legislative herd. An example is his vote for HB 2264, where on March 14, 2007, he was on the winning side of a 121 to one vote. Another example given was his vote on HB 2004 in 2007, where he was again in the majority of a 117 to three landslide.
What is more important from a public policy perspective, however, is Goyle’s votes for various tax credit programs. These programs are not tax reductions with broad application. Instead, these programs spend money using the tax system as the vehicle. Unless the legislature votes for offsetting spending cuts — and it hasn’t — other taxpayers must pay more.
Ironically, the Center for American Progress, where Goyle once worked, has an article that accurately explains how tax expenditures (tax credits) masquerade as tax cuts. See Tax Expenditures 101: What They Are and How They Slip Under the Radar. Other information may be found at The ‘tax expenditure’ solution for our national debt.
Here are some of the tax credits that Goyle’s campaign website says he voted for:
Goyle Voted For A Historic Preservation Tax Credit: In 2007, Goyle voted for HB 2405.
Goyle Voted For An Amendment Regarding Corporate Tax Credit: In 2010, Goyle voted for an amendment that would have allowed a business to receive up to $50,000 in tax credit for complying with smoking regulations
Goyle Voted Twice For Rural Business Tax Credits: In 2007, Goyle voted twice for HB 2004. The bill continued the annual $2 million Rural Business Development Tax Credits. The bill also created a tax credit for Kansas film production.
All of these tax credit programs increase taxes on the vast majority of taxpayers in order to convey benefits to a chosen few.
Finally, some of the tax cuts that Goyle voted for are outright corporate welfare that benefited only one company, on in another case, a narrow range of companies. An example is this item, again from Goyle’s campaign website: “In 2007, Goyle voted for SB 240, which was a bill that established a single-factor corporation income tax apportionment formula option for manufacturers constructing a new facility in Kansas that would cost at least $100 million and would employ at least 100 new employees by December 31, 2009. The bill was designed to help keep Hill’s Pet Nutrition in Kansas.”
Goyle’s site explains that this measure was necessary to keep this company located in Kansas, and that the company added at least 100 jobs. Perhaps it was necessary, and maybe even wise. But it wasn’t a vote to cut taxes — except for the taxes on one company. This is more properly described as corporate welfare for which other Kansas taxpayers have to pay.