CHICAGO The Kansas Senate on Friday passed a
bill to raise taxes to fill state budget holes, setting up a
potential political showdown with Governor Sam Brownback.
The Republican-led Senate voted 22-18 in favor of the
measure, which the Republican governor earlier this week
belittled as a plan that would “pummel the pocketbook of
The Senate vote followed House action on Thursday on
legislation to raise individual income tax rates and to end a
business tax exemption. The package was predicted to generate
$590 million in fiscal 2018.
While opposed to the bill, Brownback did not indicate on
Friday whether he intended to veto the legislation that undoes
2012 tax cuts he helped engineer that have made Kansas a petri
dish of conservative economic theory.
The margin of passage in the Senate for the tax-hike
legislation fell below the 27-vote threshold needed to override
his veto, leaving the measure politically vulnerable.
“As with all legislation, Governor Brownback will review the
bill closely once he receives it,” his spokeswoman, Melika
Willoughby, said in a statement.
Under the newly passed legislation, income tax rates would
jump by 14 percent over existing levels for those earning
between $30,000 and $100,000. For those with higher incomes, the
tax increase would grow 18 percent over current rates.
In 2012, Brownback enacted legislation rolling back tax
rates by as much as 29 percent in a move intended to improve
Kansas’ business climate.
Since the tax cuts were enacted, state coffers have shrunk,
causing Kansas to miss revenue targets. This month, S&P offered
a pessimistic assessment on the state’s finances, revising the
outlook on Kansas’ AA-minus credit rating to negative from
stable, citing structural budget pressures.
Brownback’s tax cuts also resulted in electoral upheaval.
More than a dozen of his conservative allies in the legislature
lost their seats in what was regarded as a political repudiation
of his fiscal policies.
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