Is this the reputation we want?

Kansas is third in the nation for having the highest taxes on retired people according to Kiplinger publications. We have an average of 8.6% state and local sales tax and a property tax that is the 15th highest in the nation. We also have a creeping-up effective income tax of 4.04% for single filers and a 5.04% tax for joint filers. According to the AARP, our state is only one of thirteen states that tax social security benefits. How the benefits are taxed are based on each state's adjusted gross income requirements.

Is this the reputation that we want to promote to the rest of the country? When our legislators meet in Topeka this month we need to inform them that increasing taxes will only create an incentive for retirees to move to a tower taxed state.

— Edward Myers, Newton 

Expand Medicaid

I urge the state legislature to pass a bill expanding Medicaid coverage to well over 100,000 low-income Kansans now without healthcare coverage, as Governor Kelly is advocating. This should be done as expeditiously as possible, and without unnecessary qualifications, such as a work requirement, which adds to administrative complexity and cost.

A bit of history may be instructive. When the Affordable Care Act was enacted, states were offered a substantial sum to help in the implementation, which included Medicaid expansion, the cost for which the federal government would initially cover 100%. The sum of $35 million comes to mind that was available to Kansas, but former Gov. Sam Brownback refused to accept it, contrary to the wishes of the insurance commissioner. After several years of continuing to oppose the expanded coverage, Gov. Brownback said he would leave it up to the legislature to decide. The legislature took that on and did pass the expansion, which the governor promptly vetoed—an action totally devoid of integrity. The legislature came within a few votes of overriding the veto, but not enough.

So now we can claim a substantial return of federal taxes that we Kansans have been paying all these years, from which about 35 other states are benefiting. It is unconscionable for those of us who have healthcare coverage to deny this often life-saving benefit to those without it. To say it costs too much is to shirk a responsibility that those of us with coverage, including legislators, have to those without, especially when this solution to expand is well within our grasp.

— Bill Zuercher, Hesston