TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Top Republican legislators in Kansas are facing a key test of support for budget-balancing proposals to cut education spending and hike income taxes.
Thursday, the state Senate planned to debate a tax bill and a separate measure making the cuts, but they adjourned without taking any votes. The package would move the GOP-controlled Legislature toward a confrontation with Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.
The governor already has criticized the tax bill, but now says he will consider the measure if it reaches his desk.
It would raise $660 million in new revenues over two years by increasing rates and eliminating an income tax exemption for more than 330,000 farmers and business owners.
“I think ultimately, they’re going to have to go back to the table and figure out what they are going to do,” Rep. Dan Hawkins (R) of Wichita said.
The other measure would cut aid to public schools in the current state budget by $128 million and trim spending on higher education by $23 million.
However, the state’s high court has yet to rule on whether or not current public school funding is enough.
“It’s a huge elephant in the room,” Sen. David Haley (D) of Kansas City, Kan. said. “We’re still waiting to see how school finances are going to play.”
The state faces projected budget shortfalls totaling nearly $1.1 billion through June 2019.