For two days in a row, Kansas lawmakers have canceled tax votes before they even started. House leaders delayed and then canceled debate Wednesday on a plan to reinstate a third income tax bracket and raise tax rates. The bill also would have reinstated income taxes for hundreds of thousands of business owners.
Republican House Speaker Ron Ryckman says they initially delayed the vote because lawmakers still had questions about whether the plan would eliminate a budget deficit.
“If that means taking another three or four hours to come up with that data, we’ll take it,” says Ryckman.
The debate was put back on the schedule, then abruptly called off again. It was canceled partially because Democrats weren’t on board. Minority Leader Jim Ward says Democrats believe they need to work on K-12 funding issues.
“Our caucus feels strongly we have to do schools first. We have to know what we have to have in terms of revenue for a long-term school plan before we vote for tax increases,” says Ward.
Ryckman says he doubts Governor Sam Brownback would sign the bill. That means Democratic votes would be needed for a veto override.
Conservative lawmakers have opposed a big tax increase, wanting instead to start with budget cuts and a more modest tax plan.
The proposal would raise around $1 billion over two years by rolling back some of the tax cuts passed in 2012. Lawmakers face budget deficits totaling almost $900 million by the middle of 2019.