Government & Politics

In midnight vote, Kansas Senate wrestles with impact of Trump tax cuts

The Kansas State Capitol.
The Kansas State Capitol. File photo

President Donald Trump’s tax cuts have triggered a tumultuous financial debate in Kansas.

Minutes after midnight Thursday, the Kansas Senate passed a tax bill on a 21-19 vote. The House will consider it Friday.

The bill, prompted by federal tax changes, would allow Kansans to itemize deductions on their state taxes even if they don't itemize their federal taxes. It would cost the state an estimated $194 million in revenue over the next three years..

The measure also includes business tax breaks, though it was unclear how much money the state would forgo.

“This is for your average taxpayer, your mom and pop,” Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker said.

Conservatives in the Senate have pushed for returning a "windfall" of money to Kansas taxpayers tied to the federal tax measures.

With midnight Friday looming as the end of the session, time was running out to get the bill passed.

“It is unexpected money,” Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, said. “And it is a tax increase if we don’t pass this.”

But some Republicans and Democrats were worried about the bill. Despite a positive ending balance in the budget this year, lawmakers remain concerned about the state’s financial situation and the state Supreme Court's pending decision on a new school funding formula.

"I think it's irresponsible," Sen. Dinah Sykes R-Lenexa said. "It could wait until we get back in January and we have a better picture."

Less than a year ago, the GOP-controlled Kansas Legislature approved a tax increase and then overrode then Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto in a bipartisan push to end revenue shortfalls and budget cuts that followed the governor’s 2012 tax cuts.

Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, said during debate Thursday night that he was concerned about the bill.

“We have a tax bill that we just cannot afford,” he said.

Holland said the bill would “blow up” the budget lawmakers sent to Gov. Jeff Colyer’s desk earlier in the day.

“This tax policy creates another mess,” he added later.

House Speaker Ron Ryckman said the chamber will debate the measure Friday, the last day of the session.

Contributing: Jonathan Shorman of The Wichita Eagle