Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax plan is set for a Senate debate Tuesday afternoon, even though Republican leaders admit that they do not think there is much support for the bill.
Senate Republicans briefly caucused on the governor’s tax plan Tuesday morning as they continue to look for a path forward after failing to override Brownback’s veto of a different tax plan last month.
Senate Vice President Jeff Longbine, an Emporia Republican, said he assumed the lack of questions about the governor’s proposal during that morning meeting may translate to lack of support in the chamber.
“Number one, it doesn’t raise enough money,” Longbine said.
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The governor’s bill is estimated to bring in $191 million during the next fiscal year by raising business filing fees along with increasing taxes on alcohol and tobacco products.
“You’ve got to start eliminating options,” Longbine said of the reason for bringing the bill to the floor.
The lack of discussion during the early morning caucus meeting led Sen. Ty Masterson, an Andover Republican, to question if this was “a game” to those in the room.
But Senate President Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican, said that wasn’t the case.
“For most legislators, all it’s saying is that the governor is refusing to acknowledge that we have a deep budget hole and he’s refusing to give us solutions,” Wagle said. “If anybody’s playing games, it’s the governor.”
Both Wagle and Longbine said Tuesday morning that the governor hasn’t given them much direction in the wake of his veto last month of the tax plan that would have rolled back his signature tax cuts.
“I don’t know what he’ll sign,” Longbine said. “I don’t know what he won’t sign. We’ve tried to ask him and he’s not given us a lot of direction.”
Both Democrats and Republicans have been critical of the governor’s tax plan since it was released in January.
But Brownback has maintained his support for the proposal, which was made as lawmakers face more than $1 billion in projected shortfalls through June 2019.
Wagle said Republican leaders met with Brownback on Monday and threw out some ideas to him.
The governor told reporters last month that he was opposed to income tax increases and ending his signature tax exemption for roughly 330,000 business owners.
“He wasn’t very interested in budget stability and predictability,” Wagle said. “So this is where we start.”