MCPHERSON, KS Feb. 18, 2015 – In last week’s Kansas Senate Assessment & Taxation committee, Senate Bill (SB)178 was submitted by State Senator Jeff Melcher of Leawood in Johnson County. SB178 would radically alter the use-value formula, which is used to value Kansas agricultural land for property tax purposes. The bill, if passed and signed by the Governor, would raise average valuations on dryland by 408%, irrigated land by 593%, and grassland by 673%.

Responding to the concerns of KFU members, farmers, ranchers, and landowners across the state, KFU president Donn Teske commented, “Rural Kansas has become a minority at the statehouse and Senate Bill 178 is a blatant attempt to exploit that fact. Kansas farmers and ranchers have paid their property taxes over the years; both in very good farming years and in very bad farming years. Coming up with these tax payments can often be a struggle, but Kansas farmers and ranchers have done this with little complaining, knowing these taxes are needed to help fund local schools, county infrastructure, hospitals, state needs, etc.”

Teske, who farms and raises beef cattle in northeast Kansas, went on to say, “Now, this Johnson County Republican Senator, Jeff Melcher, wants those of us in rural Kansas to prop up a failing, crippled, taxation system that once was a traditionally stable, three-legged stool of funding Kansas needs through income, sales, and property taxes. Sen. Melcher is doing this so Gov. Brownback’s cockamamie taxation scheme can move forward. We in rural Kansas already know this administration’s cutting of school funding will increase our local property taxes to pick up part of that gap in school district needs. Our property taxes will be going up without SB178.”

Teske added, “This bill is a slap in the face to hardworking Kansas farmers and ranchers. Kansas Farmers Union opposes this unfair taxation.”

Kansas farmers, ranchers, landowners, and rural citizens are encouraged to contact their respective state legislators and voice their thoughts, opinions, and concerns on this bill. To find your state legislator, go to www.kslegislature.org. For the full text of SB178, please click here.