AG Derek Schmidt statement on grocery sales tax phase-out bill becoming law

TOPEKA – (May 11, 2022) –  Kansas Attorney General and Republican candidate for Governor Derek Schmidt issued the following statement in response to House Bill 2106 that phases out the state sales tax on groceries being signing into law:

“The Legislature deserves the credit for answering our bipartisan calls to reduce or eliminate the state sales tax on groceries. I’m glad the Governor actually signed grocery-tax relief into law this time rather than vetoing it. Laura Kelly made the grocery-tax problem worse by voting for the biggest increase in Kansas history, then vetoed a previous repeal, and this year strangely spent time and energy running about the state for hatchet-wielding media stunts that accomplished nothing except to promote Laura Kelly. I preferred to actually work with Republican leaders who, with bipartisan support, got the job done on grocery-tax relief, property-tax relief for homeowners, and other tax relief for farmers and ranchers, teachers and many other Kansans. As governor, I will continue working with the Legislature to provide sustainable, long-term tax relief for Kansans suffering the effects of big-government inflation.” 

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On November 5, 2021, Schmidt called on the Legislature to reduce or eliminate the state sales tax on groceries this year. Kelly announced her own call for grocery-tax elimination on November 8, three days later.

According to the Kansas Legislative Research Department, the grocery sales tax would currently be 2.9%, and would be 0% by January, if Kelly hadn’t vetoed HB 2033 in 2019. All other provisions in 2019 HB 2033 have since become law, so the grocery-tax relief was the only part of that bill eliminated by her veto.

In 2016, a bipartisan proposal in the Kansas Senate proposed to permanently eliminate the grocery tax by stepping it down to 4% in 2017, 2% in 2018 and 0% by 2019. Then-Senator Kelly did not sponsor it.

In 2010, then-Senator Kelly voted for S Sub for HB 2360, the largest increase in sales tax – including the tax on groceries – in state history. The full-cent increase in the sales tax amounted to a more than $1 billion tax increase on Kansas families between 2011 to 2013 and more than $150 million each year thereafter. Then-Senator Derek Schmidt voted no.