Several conservative legislators who voted for the sweeping tax cuts of 2012 have parted ways with Gov. Sam Brownback on his signature tax policies. Bringing an official end to the state’s “tax experiment” which had been in place for more than four years after being championed by the governor.
Both chambers of the Legislature were successful in overriding the governor’s veto and forcing into law a $1.2 billion tax increase over two years which was initially passed by the House on Monday and by the Senate early Tuesday before it was later vetoed by the governor.
All of our local legislators including Sen. Elaine Bowers of Concordia, Rep. Susan Concannon of Beloit, Rep. Clay Aurand of Belleville, and Rep. Troy Waymaster of Bunker Hill all voted in favor of the veto override.
Income taxes will rise across the board, but most tax rates will remain lower than they were before the 2012 tax cuts. The increases are expected to generate more than $1.2 billion for the state over the next two years.
The Senate and House voted 27-13 and 88-31, respectively, to override Brownback’s veto. The action took place on the 109th day of the legislative session, and it paves the way for lawmakers to potentially wrap up their work this week.
Lawmakers who supported the bill and the override said the 2012 policy was a mistake which had drained the state of revenue. Ultimately leading to rounds of budget cuts and reducing investments in KDOT and other priorities such as KPERS.
Kansas faces a projected budget shortfall of roughly $889 million over the next two years. Lawmakers also have approved hundreds of millions in new spending on schools, though Brownback has yet to take-action on that piece of legislation which passed Monday.
Those who sought to keep Brownback’s veto in place decried the decision to raise taxes without significant spending cuts. They said lower-income earners will face an additional burden because of higher taxes.
The bill replaces the state’s two-bracket income tax system with three brackets. Income up to $30,000 for married couples would be taxed at 3.1 percent, income between $30,000 and $60,000 would be taxed at 5.25 percent, and income above $60,000 would be taxed at 5.7 percent. The bill also repeals an exemption on approximately 300,000 businesses and farmer’s incomes.
The Legislature initially passed Senate Bill 30 just after midnight on Tuesday morning. Brownback immediately promised to veto the bill and fulfilled his promise on Tuesday afternoon. The tax plan was the first to pass the Legislature since February, when lawmakers passed a similar plan. Brownback also vetoed that bill, but the override effort fell three votes short in the Senate after passing the House.
Yesterday, following the veto, the Senate voted to override first and gathered the exact number of votes needed. Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, who has opposed most tax plans this session, voted against the override.
In the House, Speaker Ron Ryckman, an Olathe Republican who has also voted against several tax plans, supported the override. In the end, the House had four more votes than needed. The House was 15 votes short of the 2/3 majority needed to override a potential veto when the tax bill initially passed on Monday. Therefore, 19 representatives switched their vote last night. Some cited a belief that the governor would veto any tax increase and felt something needed to be done rather than nothing under the circumstances facing the state.
Lawmakers had been gridlocked over taxes since May, and various plans had failed. One plan was shot down due to a lack of Democratic support because they felt the proposed tax increase wasn’t large enough.
The new tax policy will go into effect on July 1.