Kansas Legislators Repudiate Governor by Overriding Tax Veto

Jon Howard
June 12, 2017

Kansas legislators have repudiated the tax-cutting experiment that brought Gov. Sam Brownback national attention, with even fellow Republicans voting to override his veto of a plan reversing numerous income tax reductions he championed in recent years as a way to fix the cash-strapped state's budget. "I hope we can be a bellwether for the nation because I think there are a lot of parallels".

Republicans in Kansas broke ranks with the state's conservative governor Wednesday night, voting to raise rates and put an end to a series of tax cuts.

FILE - In this Monday, June 5, 2017, file photo, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback speaks to reporters during a news conference, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. But on Tuesday, lawmakers overrode the governor's veto.

"He believes - still believes - in this, and that's OK".

Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, an Overland Park Republican, made it clear during the floor debate that he voted for the 2012 tax cuts. "That's what I'm doing now". Legislative leaders were waiting to finish work on the next state budget until tax issues were resolved, and Brownback's administration had said that lawmakers need to pass a budget by June 17 for most state employees to continue getting paid after the new fiscal year begins in July.

The law to increase taxes over the next two years comes as legislators seek to close a projected $900 million budget gap for that same period and bolster funding for K-12 schools under a Kansas Supreme Court order. The bill would have increased income tax rates and end an exemption for 330,000 plus farmers and business owners.

"Aside from raising taxes retroactively on every Kansan, it failed to address the two core problems with the career politicians in Topeka - out-of-control wasteful spending and no plan to grow our economy", he wrote in a statement on his campaign website.

Supporters had four votes more in the House than the two-thirds majority necessary to override a veto. More than two dozen representatives who voted against the tax bill one day earlier fell in line behind the override.

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Burdett Loomis, a professor of political science at the University of Kansas, said Kansas's tradition of moderate governance and history of moderate Republicans sets the state apart from many of its other deep red counterparts.

"This level of taxation is wholly unnecessary", said Republican Sen. Senator Ty Masterson stuck with the governor.

"Long term, we can not undo the damage of inadequate revenues", Sloan said.

Nevertheless, he left no doubt that he thinks the Legislature made the wrong decision, and said he thinks it was simply the result of a lengthy legislative session that has tried the patience of lawmakers.

Follow John Hanna on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apjdhanna. That led to separate votes approving a new school funding formula, which is on the governor's desk, and the tax legislation he tried to derail.

Attempts to override the governor's veto on both those bills failed.

In less than a month, Kansans will pay more in income taxes.

"In both of our states, we've been highly influenced by conservative policy think-tanks that encouraged us to keep cutting tax revenues in order to show a dynamic effect in the growth of our economy", said state Rep. Leslie Osborn, the Republican chairwoman of the Oklahoma House Appropriations Committee.

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