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Headlines for Saturday, May 30, 2015

Kansas Governor Won't Provide Details on New Tax Plan

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has a new plan for raising taxes to close a projected budget shortfall.But he wouldn't discuss the details yesterday (FRI) evening. Republicans who control the Legislature have been divided over how to raise new revenues to erase the $406 million shortfall for the fiscal year beginning July 1. They are considering increasing sales, tobacco and business taxes but can't agree on specific proposals.The Republican governor called a news conference for Friday evening to announce his new plan but canceled it less than 40 minutes later, just before the event was to start. He met privately with top legislators instead. The state's budget problems arose after lawmakers slashed personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback's urging as an economic stimulus.


Kansas Collects $6M Less in Taxes than Expected This Month

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has collected $6 million less in taxes this month than anticipated, and disappointing sales tax collections are a key reason. The state Department of Revenue reported yesterday (FRI) that the state took in $536 million in taxes during May, when the official forecast predicted $542 million. The shortfall was 1.1 percent. Since the fiscal year began in July 2014, state tax collections have fallen short of the official prediction of $5 billion by about $10 million, or 0.2 percent. Sales tax collections in May were $175 million, or about $8 million less than expected. The shortfall was about 4.3 percent. But personal income tax collections exceeded expectations by about $12 million for the month. They were $278 million, about 4.6 percent more than the predicted $266 million.


Key Kansas Lawmaker Criticized for Absence

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A key Kansas lawmaker who has been criticized for his weeklong absence says he was away on family business and was not paid during that time. Republican Senator Ty Masterson from Andover said he was in Texas on family business and declined to give specifics for privacy reasons. Yesterday (FRI) was the 99th day of the legislative session, which traditionally span 90 days or less each year. Lawmakers have been in a deadlock attempting to fill an estimated $406 million budget shortfall with tax increases.  Masterson is chairman of the Senate budget committee and was rumored to be on vacation over the past week while receiving overtime pay. Administrative staff confirmed that he waived his pay, but the paperwork had not been processed due to the lack of a signature.


Kansas House Approves Changes to Liquor Laws

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has approved a measure that would allow alcohol at state events at the Capitol and adjusts a number of liquor permit processes.The chamber voted 90-30 yesterday (FRI) to approve the bill, which also would allow patrons of art galleries to bring their own bottles of wine to painting sessions. Alcoholic beverages could also be consumed at farmers markets, state fairs and catered events on public property.  It also would allow alcohol distributors to provide samples and let vineyards sell wine on their property. Republican Representative Joseph Scapa of Wichita said he opposed the bill because he believed some of its provisions could lead to an increase in underage drinking.  The Senate approved the bill Thursday and it now goes to the governor.


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