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Brownback Vetoes Tax Increase, Kansas Lawmakers to Attempt Override

Governor Brownback signing the veto message. (Photo from the governor's office)

UPDATED at 10:35 p.m.: Kansas lawmaker have voted to override Governor Sam Brownback's veto and roll back many of the 2012 tax cuts. KPR will have more on this development in the coming hours.

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Kansas lawmakers are gearing up for an attempt to override Governor Sam Brownback’s veto of a tax increase. The House and Senate approved the plan overnight Monday and Brownback vetoed it Tuesday.

In a statement, Brownback said Kansas has a “pro-growth” tax policy and the bill would be a step backward on that front.

“We can and we must balance our budget without negatively harming Kansas families,” said Brownback.

The bill would roll back many of the state’s 2012 tax cuts and raise $1.2 billion over two years.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning said they could attempt an override as early as Tuesday night, and he’ll support the effort.

“It’s time to put this tax issue to bed and get back to governing,” said Denning. “It’s time to do it.”

That's easier said than done. An override would need one additional vote in the Senate and 15 additional votes in the House.

Supporters of the tax plan said it would help stabilize the state budget. Lawmakers face a nearly $900 million deficit over two years and increased costs for schools after a court ruling that said school funding is inadequate.

Republican Senator Gene Suellentrop said the tax bill wouldn’t fix the budget and would mean big retroactive tax increases on Kansans. He’ll be urging senators not to override and work instead on a bill that would trim spending to help balance the budget.

“I think you’re going to probably see something crafted more along that line coming and it’s something the governor will support,” said Suellentrop.

Brownback vetoed another tax increase earlier this session and lawmakers could not muster the votes for an override.

Lawmakers face a deadline at the end of June to fix the school funding issues or schools could be closed.

There's an even earlier deadline to avoid state employee furloughs. The 2017 fiscal year ends on June 30. According to state budget director Shawn Sullivan, the fiscal year 2018 payroll for state agencies starts on June 18. Absent a budget resolution before then, the state won’t have authority to pay its employees.

Asked whether state agencies are being instructed to work on contingency plans or otherwise prepare for potential furloughs, Brownback spokeswoman Melika Willoughby said no.

“We are confident the Legislature will act prior to June 18,” she wrote in an email.

 

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