Another day, another tax plan met with skepticism by Kansas lawmakers.
For the second time this week, a tax plan that would roll back key portions of Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax cuts failed to make it to a floor vote in the Kansas Legislature.
This time, it was the House rather than the Senate that backed away from the proposal.
Leading House Republicans, who postponed a possible floor debate on the tax bill shortly after 1 p.m., said the measure could still come to a vote later in the day when the House returned.
They then called off that later debate shortly before 5 p.m., roughly a half hour after saying the bill would indeed come to the floor.
House Speaker Ron Ryckman, an Olathe Republican, said the plan would have needed veto-proof majorities to overcome the governor’s opposition.
That meant Democrats would need to support the bill.
“It was pretty clear that the Democrats weren’t going to be in on the plan,” Ryckman said. “We just decided not to put our members through a vote that didn’t have a chance to become law.”
It wasn’t clear Wednesday exactly how much support the bill had in the House.
“For some, it is way too much,” said House tax committee chairman Rep. Steven Johnson, an Assaria Republican. “For some, it is still too little. For some, it is the wrong time.”
The new plan’s failure sends leading tax lawmakers back to the negotiating table. Those discussions are expected to start Thursday morning.
The proposal that fell apart Wednesday would have raised an estimated $1 billion over the next two fiscal years, as the state faces projected budget shortfalls and legislators must come up with a new school finance formula.
Democrats have been hesitant to embrace recent tax proposals, saying the plans do not raise enough money.
Lawmakers have not reached a consensus on future budgets or how much new money to put into a revised school finance plan.
“We don’t have the numbers to make that good decision,” said House Minority Leader Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat, emphasizing that he wants lawmakers to take on school finance before taxes.
A coalition of moderate Republicans, Democrats and even some conservative Republicans would have to join together to agree on a bill if they wish to override Brownback’s likely veto.
Rep. Sean Tarwater, a Stilwell Republican, supported an earlier tax increase of more than $1 billion but said he was reluctant to support another tax proposal if the Senate failed to pass the bill with a veto-proof majority.
“I stuck my neck out the first time,” Tarwater said. “I told the voters that I would do what needed to be done and I did it, and I got pummeled for it. It’s their turn to take the heat on something.”
Other moderates, like Rep. Tom Cox, a Shawnee Republican, said they planned to support the tax increase, despite concerns it may struggle for support in the Senate.
“I’ll keep sticking my neck out as long as I have to,” Cox said.
The latest tax proposal would raise each individual income tax rate and bring back a third tax bracket thrown out by the Brownback tax cuts.
Brownback’s tax exemption for roughly 330,000 business owners would also be rolled back under the proposal.