Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature tax policy came away unscathed Monday as the Kansas House failed to pass a new tax plan that would have reversed much of the legislation the governor has long championed.
The Kansas House voted down the new tax plan 53-68 Monday night. The proposal would have raised individual income tax rates and ended a tax exemption for certain business owners.
The new tax hikes were estimated to bring Kansas more than $1.2 billion over a two-year span.
Lawmakers voted down the latest tax increase after roughly an hour of debate, where some Republicans and Democrats made emotional pleas for the bill to pass out of the chamber, while the more conservative members of the Republican Party continued to protest, arguing the state doesn’t need to increase taxes at all.
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They were joined by Democrats reluctant to embrace the legislation.
“There’s enough in this bill to make you angry or make you happy,” House Minority leader Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat, said before the vote.
The proposal fell on the five year anniversary of Brownback originally signing the income tax cuts into law.
Ward and a majority of other Democrats voted against the legislation.
Moderate Republicans would likely have needed more support from Democrats in order to get the legislation across the line.
Tax negotiations in the Kansas Legislature have slowed this month as a band of Democrats have said they would reject a variety of new tax proposals amid concerns that more money will be needed to fund a new school finance formula.
Rep. Russ Jennings, a Lakin Republican, said during the debate the new bill “won’t fix everything.”
But he pleaded with lawmakers to pass it.
“We have the potential of righting the ship substantially,” Jennings said.
Conservative House Republicans, who held a news conference Monday to advocate against large tax increases, were unswayed by the new attempt at a tax plan.
They warned of economic ruin if the plan passed.
“You can’t tax your way to prosperity, folks,” said Rep. Brenda Landwehr, a Wichita Republican.
Rep. Blake Carpenter, a Derby Republican, read the Republican Party platform aloud during the debate.
He said the tax increases violate the party’s platform.
“This isn’t the last train out of the station, we still have time,” Carpenter said of other conservative options.
Under the proposed legislation, tax rates would have gradually increased starting in tax year 2017.
In tax year 2018, individual income tax rates would have reached 5.7 percent, 5.25 percent and 3.1 percent under the bill.
The state currently has a two-bracket individual income tax system with rates at 2.7 percent and 4.6 percent.
Another portion of the bill also would have extended the state’s sales tax revenue bond financing act for another five years.
Rep. Melissa Rooker, a Fairway Republican, said she was disappointed by Monday’s vote, which was supported in large part by moderate Republicans.
“People seem to be holding out for perfection,” Rooker said after voting for the bill.
Rep. Jarrod Ousley, a Merriam Democrat who voted against the bill, said he felt the legislation didn’t provide enough money to fund schools.
“This was nowhere near perfect,” Ousley said.
Here’s how House members from Johnson and Wyandotte counties voted on the new tax plan:
Yes votes in the House: Republicans Shelee Brim, Larry Campbell, Stephanie Clayton, Tom Cox, Linda Gallagher, Jan Kessinger, Joy Koesten, Patty Markley and Melissa Rooker.
Democrats: Cindy Holscher, Nancy Lusk, Cindy Neighbor, Brett Parker and Kathy Wolfe Moore.
No votes in the House: Republicans Erin Davis, Willie Dove, Keith Esau, Randy Powell, Abraham Rafie, John Resman, Ron Ryckman, Scott Schwab, William Sutton and Sean Tarwater.
Democrats: Tom Burroughs, Pam Curtis, Stan Frownfelter, Broderick Henderson, Jarrod Ousley, Louis Ruiz and Valdenia Winn