UPDATE: Coalition against sales tax increase 'thankful' for Koch support

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WICHITA, Kan. — One of Wichita's biggest employers is joining the conversation about a tax proposal for the city. Koch Industries announced Thursday, it is against a one percent sales tax increase.

In November, voters will decide whether to say yes or no to the tax initiative. If approved, it will generate $397.6 million dollars over five years. The money would go toward job creation and retention, street maintenance, expanding the transit system and a future water supply.

While many are in agreement, better roads and more water are important for the community, those opposed to the tax increase take issue with the $80 million going to support the jobs fund.

"The jobs fund has changed several times," said Jennifer Baysinger. "At one point there was a large cash option, at different times there's been talk of infrastructure. I don't know that citizens have a clear understanding of what the jobs fund will really be like."

Baysinger is the coordinator for Coalition for a Better Wichita, the group that's been vocal against the sales tax hike.

She says the jobs fund provides incentives for companies to stay in Wichita, something she believes is a backwards approach to growing the economy.

"We don't think government should be taking money from families and then giving it to certain businesses," she said.

Her sentiment is now being echoed by Koch Industries. Mark Nichols, the vice president of government and public affairs, said in an email to KAKEnews, "Koch Industries is supporting the Coalition for a Better Wichita. We do not support a new tax on citizens to create a jobs fund."

Baysinger is thankful for the public backing but wants to remind voters, "We are a broad-based coalition. We have support from businesses and individuals across town. The best way to grow the economy is to provide a favorable tax environment and to provide a favorable regulatory environment."

Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch wrote an op-ed for USAToday.com this week on a similar topic. To read it, Click here

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In November, Wichita residents will be able to vote on a one cent sales tax increase proposal.

On Tuesday, Wichita City Council members voted six to one to seek the sales tax increase in the upcoming election. Jeff Longwell voted against it.

If approved by voters, the tax would generate $397.6 million dollars over five years. The money would go for job creation and retention, street maintenance, expanding the transit system and a future water supply.

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The primary election is just hours away -- but an even bigger issue for Wichita could be on the ballot in November.

The City Council will vote on whether a one-percent sales tax increase should be consider in November. If approved, residents would decide the fate of the tax plan.

"You know, if they work for the people, the people should always have the choice to make that decision," said resident Mike McFarland. "If we choose that, that's more for us."

The proposal would generate $400 million in five years to the following areas:
$250 million for water conservation and improvements
$80 million for the economy and jobs
$40 million for the public transit system
$30 million for road repairs

Some groups, like the Coalition for a Better Wichita, have been vocal about their frustration about what's presented.

"There's not a clear plan," said Jennifer Baysinger, a spokesperson for the group. "There have been several plans discussed and several plans changed and several plans brought back, but no concrete plan from the city as to how the taxpayer dollars will be spent."

Council members tell KAKE's Annette Lawless they are still deciding on where they stand. They've presented the information to residents at dozens of meetings this past year. They plan to stick to a vote that represents what's best for Wichita.

The City Council meeting is at 9 a.m. at Wichita City Hall. The meeting is open to the public.

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