TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’ Republican-led Legislature approved a big increase in personal income taxes on Friday to help balance the state budget, defying Republican Gov. Sam Brownback by seeking to roll back his signature tax cuts.
The state Senate passed a bill that would generate more than $1 billion over two years. The 22-18 vote came a day after the state House passed the measure, which sends the bill to Brownback. He has strongly criticized the bill as harmful to working-class families and small businesses, and he said he wouldn’t sign it. But he has stopped short of saying he would veto it, and he could allow the bill to become law without his signature.
The Legislature’s action sets up an unusual confrontation between the Republican-controlled Legislature and term-limited governor from the same party. Neither chamber gave the bill the two-thirds majority vote it would need to overcome a veto.
Kansas has struggled to balance its budget since Republicn lawmakers slashed income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback’s urging. Even some GOP voters concluded last year that the tax-cutting experiment had been a bust as an economic stimulus, and two dozen of the governor’s conservative allies lost their seats, giving Democrats and moderate Republicans more power.
The state faces projected budget shortfalls totaling nearly $1.1 billion through June 2019. Even with a tax increase, lawmakers would need to pass some stop-gap measures, such as internal government borrowing, to allow the state to pay its bills through June 30, because new revenue can’t be raised that quickly.
Brownback has proposed raising cigarette and liquor taxes and the annual filing fees paid by for-profit businesses, along with internal government borrowing and other accounting moves. His conservative allies in the Senate argued that lawmakers were moving too quickly and said spending cuts should be considered first.
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