Senate preps for tax debate: A bill introduced in the Senate late this week would roll back the 2012 tax cut for roughly 330,000 businesses, including LLCs, while also increasing income tax rates.
The top personal income tax bracket would rise to 4.9 percent under Senate Bill 147. The lower tax bracket would rise to 3 percent.
Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, an Overland Park Republican, said he expects the tax increases would bring the state roughly $370 million per year. A fiscal note from the state on the bill was not available late Friday afternoon.
“That will obviously solve the deficit, and then we’ll have some cuts,” Denning said, if the bill passes.
Kansas is facing more than $1 billion in projected shortfalls through the end of fiscal year 2019.
Prominent lawmakers have been resistant to Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget proposals to mend that shortfall.
But it appears the Senate bill could move quickly. Hearings are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.
Governor’s budget challenge: In his State of the State speech, Brownback asked lawmakers to pass a bill by the end of January to address the state’s 2017 budget shortfall.
Well, that didn’t happen.
Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer said this week the administration was still committed to working with the Legislature on the budget issues.
“The sooner that we get a solution that everybody can agree on, then the faster all of this gets resolved,” Colyer said.
House and Senate lawmakers are still discussing budget proposals, including sweeping money from a long-term investment fund or possible budget cuts.
Rep. Steven Johnson, an Assaria Republican, said he thought lawmakers were working through the budget issues in a thoughtful but accelerated manner.
Lobbyist gifts: The push to rein in lobbyist gifts to elected officials continued this week, as Missouri lawmakers debated an outright ban and a $10-a-day cap.
Lawmakers and their staffs collectively accept hundreds of thousands of dollars a year worth of lobbyist-provided meals, booze, trips and event tickets. The Missouri House has already approved legislation banning individual lawmakers from accepting gifts from lobbyists, although they could still attend lobbyist-funded events as long as every member of the General Assembly is invited at least 72 hours beforehand.
But opposition in the Senate doomed a gift ban last year. Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe, a Jefferson City Republican, is trying to strike a compromise. He’s pushing for a cap that would permit legislators to accept $10 worth of gifts from a lobbyist every day.
Kehoe told Missourinet that the bill would improve the tarnished perception of the Missouri General Assembly.
“I think perception is reality,” he said. “And I think part of this is trying to clear up the public perception that there’s somebody influencing elected officials with gifts.”
GOP leaders hit the road: Gov. Eric Greitens traveled to Washington last Saturday to meet with Vice President Mike Pence in the White House. But the afternoon chat wasn’t the governor’s only purpose for visiting D.C.
That night, Greitens attended the annual Alfalfa Club dinner, an event described by The Washington Post as a gathering of “some of the richest and most powerful people in the world” and “the most insidery bastion of inside Washington.”
Greitens didn’t respond to a request for comment on his evening in D.C.
Attorney General Josh Hawley, meanwhile, spent the weekend at a resort near Palm Springs, Calif., at an event hosted by Charles and David Koch. Hawley spoke at the event, according to his spokesman, discussing “his tough ethics policy, his leadership against federal overreach and his efforts to protect the most vulnerable.”
Wichita-based Koch Industries gave Hawley $20,000 for his campaign last year.
Jay Nixon State Park: Former Gov. Jay Nixon got quite a parting gift before leaving office: a 1,230-acre tract in southeast Missouri was named Jay Nixon State Park.
The state purchased the land in 2015 using funds from the settlement of a lawsuit against a mining company.
The name seemed to make sense. As Nixon was leaving office, he consistently pointed to the expansion of state parks as a big part of his legacy as governor.
Not everyone is pleased with the idea. A House Republican has filed a bill that would change the name to Proffitt Mountain State Park.
Republican Paul Fitzwater of Potosi told the Springfield News-Leader that it’s not about Nixon; he simply objects to the way the land was purchased.