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Kansas House Rejects Bill Raising Taxes to Close Budget Gap

Kansas Statehouse (Photo by J. Schafer)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has rejected a bill increasing sales and cigarette taxes to erase a projected budget deficit and avert deep spending cuts.  The vote was 94-21 Thursday against a measure that would raise more than $400 million during the fiscal year that begins July 1. The tax increases would have balanced a $15.4 billion budget already approved by the Republican-dominated Legislature.  The state's budget problems arose after legislators slashed income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at GOP Governor Sam Brownback's urging.  The Kansas Constitution prohibits the state from running a deficit. Brownback's budget director warned lawmakers this week failing to pass a tax bill would lead to across-the-board spending cuts.  House GOP leaders held the roll open for four hours over two days but couldn't get the votes.  Lawmakers have now entered their 112th day of what would normally be a 90-day session.  That's 22 days into overtime with no tax plan in place to fund the budget that's already been passed by both chambers.  If no tax plan is passed, the governor may order across-the-board spending cuts of 6.25 percent.  Under this scenario, public schools would lose nearly $200 million.  In addition, the state would likely lose federal matching dollars for programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

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