Kansas House scrambling to craft yet another tax plan

The morning after the House rejected a tax plan by two Wichita legislators, House and Senate tax negotiators reported no progress Friday toward a plan to replace it with another bill that might bring an end to the session.

Rep. Richard Carlson, R-St. Marys and House Taxation Committee chairman, told a conference committee that House members are working to craft another plan, but didn’t have anything to share with their Senate counterparts.

The House has been stalemated for weeks in trying to pass a bill to adequately fund government in the wake of last year’s deep tax cuts, while trying to stay on Gov. Sam Brownback’s "glide path to zero" on state income taxes.

Thursday night, House members soundly rejected a proposal by Wichita Republican Reps. Gene Suellentrop and Mark Hutton, who attempted to bypass Republican leadership and appeal directly to the overall House membership with a plan they said was amenable to the Senate and the governor.

The cornerstone of the plan was a divided sales tax that would have maintained the current 6.3 percent sales tax on general purchases but dropped the tax on groceries to 4.9 percent.

An emergency sales tax increase passed during the recession is scheduled to expire July 1 and revert the tax rate to 5.7 percent, which would leave a substantial hole in the state budget.

At a Friday morning meeting of the House-Senate tax conference committee, Carlson said the House negotiators were not prepared to offer another plan, but might bring something forward later Friday.

"We had to regroup a bit (after) last night, quite frankly," he said.