A mega-bill negotiated by legislative leaders over the weekend combining tax increases with education funding increases failed miserably in Kansas House yesterday in Topeka by a vote of 32-91. So the issues were broken back apart and then made their way through the legislature successfully.
Legislators passed a school funding bill which adds nearly $300 million over two years for public education, and they approved a separate $1.2 billion tax plan.
However, minutes after the Senate’s 26-14 tax plan vote, Gov. Sam Brownback said he would veto the package which would put more than 300,000 small businesses and farmers back on the tax rolls while adding a third income tax bracket and restoring a number of tax deductions and credits.
The sweeping tax cuts were approved by the legislature in 2012, and they are the signature accomplishment of Gov. Brownback. Although many believe those cuts have ultimately created the $889 million shortfall facing the state between now and July of 2019.
Neither the Senate nor House votes yesterday provide a veto-proof majority. The House needs 15 additional supporters while the Senate needs just one. The Legislature approved a tax plan in February which Brownback vetoed. The House had a veto-proof majority on that bill, however the Senate could not assemble the additional three votes it needed to support the House in the veto override attempt.
The school finance plan, which gained approval in both chambers yesterday, would add nearly $300 million over two years and now moves to Gov. Brownback for consideration.
Lawmakers face a June 30 deadline to increase school funding after a March ruling from the Kansas Supreme Court that said current funding is inadequate and unconstitutional. During debate, some lawmakers raised concerns that the $300 million plan will not satisfy the court and could force a special legislative session to be held.
Yesterday was the 108th day of the current session. Kansas Legislative sessions typically run 90 days, but lawmakers foresaw a rough road ahead of them in January and budgeted for an even 100 days before the session even began. The all-time record session was held just two years ago, in 2015, and lasted 113 days. The current 108-day session is now the second longest in state history, surpassing the 107 day session of 2002.