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Gov. Sam Brownback to Kansas: We’re not raising taxes

Brownback
Brownback

Faced with new dissension from leaders of his own party, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback today insisted that he’s done raising taxes.

“We're not going to raise taxes. That isn't going to happen,” Brownback said Wednesday morning, referring to the upcoming 2016 legislation session. His remarks were reported by Martin Hawver of Hawver’s Capitol Report.

A few months ago, Brownback fended off an attempt by state Rep. Mark Hutton, a Wichita Republican, and others who wanted to eliminate the business tax exemption that has become the controversial cornerstone of Brownback’s governorship. Instead, Brownback pushed successfully to raise sales and tobacco taxes by about $400 million.

But the boost isn’t producing the revenue that he expected.

On Wednesday, Brownback said raising taxes again was out of the question.

Hawver reported that Brownback also said he’s working with legislative leaders to find more ways to cut spending. The governor said he’s hoping a tax amnesty program will generate $20 million to $30 million, a figure that also might fall short of lawmaker expectations.

The governor declined to talk about the potential political fallout from the revenue shortfall even though mid-term elections loom next August and November.

Brownback’s remarks came just a couple of days after an Overland Park state senator, Republican Jim Denning, the vice chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, told KCUR that the 2012 income tax cuts that Brownback championed aren’t working.

“We obviously went too deep,” Denning said. “It’s not producing what I thought it would produce.”

Revenue collections have fallen short in each of the first three months of the current fiscal year.

“If these trends continue next month, we could have a zero balance in the checking account and that will by statute trigger the governor to cut,” Denning said.

Politically, Brownback would be hard-pressed to go back on his business income-tax cuts. They are, for him, as important an achievement as the Affordable Care Act is for President Barack Obama. Brownback’s comments Wednesday suggest he isn’t willing to consider an adjustment to his 2012 reductions.

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