Government & Politics

Kansas House passes bill that strikes a blow to Brownback’s tax policies

The Kansas House voted 76-48 Thursday to pass income tax increases and end a tax exemption for roughly 330,000 business owners.
The Kansas House voted 76-48 Thursday to pass income tax increases and end a tax exemption for roughly 330,000 business owners. jsleezer@kcstar.com

A plan that rolls back tax policies long defended by Gov. Sam Brownback is one step closer to becoming law.

The Kansas House voted 76 to 48 Thursday to pass income tax increases and end a tax exemption for roughly 330,000 business owners.

Only 63 votes were needed for the measure to pass the chamber, but the total was still shy of the 84 required for a veto-proof majority.

Brownback has said he is against the tax increases and will not sign the bill.

The bill now heads to the Kansas Senate.

The tax plan, amended by a Democratic lawmaker last week, brings in a third tax bracket and raises a second tax rate.

Despite the support, conservative Republicans made it clear that they were against the legislation.

“This bill is especially unjust,” said Rep. Trevor Jacobs, a Fort Scott Republican who voted against the bill.

After the initial vote Wednesday, several Republicans, including Rep. John Whitmer, a Wichita Republican, gave a written explanation for their “no” votes.

“Our state government has a spending problem, not a revenue problem,” Whitmer wrote in his explanation.

Rep. Keith Esau, an Olathe Republican, said the bill hurts protections for poor citizens.

“It’s a step backwards for fairness,” Esau said.

But both Republicans and Democrats supported the legislation, including moderates like House Majority Leader Don Hineman, a Dighton Republican.

Estimates show the change would bring in more than $1 billion over the next two years.

The state is facing a projected budget shortfall of more than $750 million over that same period of time.

Support for the bill was strong on Wednesday when the legislation passed a first vote quickly without debate.

The House is also expected to vote on a bill to mend the 2017 budget gap by taking money from an investment fund estimated to have more than $360 million in it.

The Kansas Governor said Tuesday that he was open to discussing tax proposals.

Hunter Woodall: 785-354-1388, @HunterMw

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