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Kansas governor vetos tax bill to preserve political legacy

23 February 2017

Brownback vetoed the measure the morning after pledging to do so during a speech to an annual banquet of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.

But those who supported the override said the 2012 tax cuts had gone, "too far too fast" and that without the bill, deep spending cuts would be needed to balance the state budget for the next two years. It is the state's largest business group, a powerful voice within the Republican Party and a stronger backer of income tax cuts.

Kansas's state budget has been in disarray ever since Brownback and the Kansas legislature slashed taxes starting in 2012, as revenue for the state has routinely fallen well short of projections.

Neither chamber gave the bill the two-thirds majority it would need to override a veto.

The Republican governor made his comments after vetoing a bill that would have increased income taxes to help balance the state budget.

"I think we could see several vetoes", she told fellow GOP senators during a pre-vote caucus.

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Other tax proposals, like the governor's, were also mentioned as possible solutions as it became clear the Senate would not be able to mirror the House and veto the bill. Lawmakers will have to draft a new budget-balancing plan.

Supporters of the bill saw it as necessary for closing projected budget shortfalls totaling almost $1.1 billion through June 2019 without deep spending cuts. Brownback has proposed raising cigarette and liquor taxes and increasing annual filing fees paid by for-profit businesses, along with internal government borrowing and other accounting moves.

The governor and his allies continue to argue that the tax cuts he championed are creating economic growth and the state's problems were largely caused by slumps in agriculture and oil production.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says he'd consider capping a personal income tax exemption for more than 330,000 farmers and business owners. "Rather, this bill is an assault on the pocketbooks of the middle class".

The bill approved by lawmakers would raise the top income tax rate from 4.6 percent to 5.45 percent.

Even Senate Republican leaders who have been willing to increase income taxes outlined a plan last week to cut aid to public schools immediately by $128 million, or $279 per student, but they dropped the idea when support for it collapsed.