Controversial Tax Relief Bill Headed To Governor

By: Posted by Melissa Brunner
By: Posted by Melissa Brunner

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW/AP) - Supporters say it will create jobs and grow the economy, but critics call it irresponsible and reckless.

The House approved a tax bill Wednesday on a 64-59 vote. The Senate approved it earlier and Gov. Sam Brownback says he's prepared to sign it.

The bill reduces individual income tax rates and lowers the sales tax. It also eliminates income taxes for 191,000 businesses.

But legislative staff predicts it will create a budget shortfall that could exceed $2.7 billion by 2017.

Former state GOP chair Rochelle Chronister and the group Traditional Republicans for Common Sense released a statement blasting the measure.

“Never before, in the history of our state, have we seen such reckless financial policy being made," Chronister said. "One thing is clear, hardworking Kansans lost today. And, our children lost today.”

But Brownback says the bill would grow the state's economy.

"After a decade of lost jobs and people, Kansas is now on the path of economic growth and job creation," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Full statement from Gov. Sam Brownback:
“As with all bills approved by the Kansas Legislature, I will carefully review and consider HB 2117. It would create tens of thousands of new jobs, and combined with spending restraint, will help to reverse a lost decade of declining employment.

“I am prepared to sign the bill but I encourage Kansas Legislators to continue their work on reforming our state’s tax policy and to consider some of the alternatives I proposed in my original pro-growth tax reform to off-set the cost.

“It is important to recognize that the debate in Kansas has changed from how we grow state government to about how we grow the state’s economy. After a decade of lost jobs and people, Kansas is now on the path of economic growth and job creation.”

Full statement from Rochelle Chronsiter of Traditional Republicans for Common Sense:

“Rarely do voters get an opportunity to see such a spectacular failure of leadership by their elected officials.

“Never before, in the history of our state, have we seen such reckless financial policy being made. One thing is clear, hardworking Kansans lost today. And, our children lost today.

"It is hard to overstate the impact of what occurred today in the House. If Governor Brownback allows this to become law, in just a few years, nearly half of the State General Fund will need to be cut. To be clear, the state will go bankrupt, property and sales taxes will increase and critical services will be eliminated.

“Kansans deserve a tax structure that is responsible, pro-growth and competitive. We cannot afford these irresponsible financial policies that deficit spend and run up the tax bill on future generations. It doesn’t work for Washington and it shouldn’t work here.”

From House Speaker Mike O'Neal:
“Today the House took necessary action to ensure Kansas is moving in the right direction when it comes to reforming our state’s income tax policy. The Senate has made it clear they do not want to reform taxes this session and we hope this will encourage them to reconsider giving the Tax Conference Committee report further consideration.”

Statement from Michael Marvin, Executive Director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees:

"The level of political gamesmanship displayed by the House of
Representatives today should serve as an embarassment to all Kansans. The House's irresponsible action has placed every state program and the citizens they serve in jeopardy. The tax plan approved by the House will blow a devastating $207 million hole in the state's budget starting next fiscal year, growing to $1.2 billion in Fiscal Year 2018. This will require massive cuts to every critical state programs and jeopardize the safety and livelihood of state employees, while lining the pockets of the Governor's corporate donors.

"Kansans should not be pawns in the political games of Governor Brownback and his allies. Kansans deserve more than to be roadkill on the Governor's road map to ruin."

From the Working Kansans Alliance:

In a series of unprecedented procedural moves today Kansas House Speaker Mike O'Neal and House conservatives sent a massive corporate tax break to Governor Brownback for his signature.

The tax break specifically exempts all business income passed through on individual income tax returns by corporations large and small.

Meanwhile, the poorest Kansans will actually see a tax increase.

Not that details like those were actually discussed on the House floor as Speaker O'Neal shut down debate abruptly and even refused to let some House Democrats explain their votes.

But the impact of this reckless plan will reach far beyond the offshore accounts wealthiest Kansans and the executive boardrooms of the Kansas corporations. After Governor Brownback signs this bill the other shoe will drop. Under this plan Kansas is projected to be billions of dollars in the hole within three years.

So in order to cut $3.7 Billion out of the budget before 2018 to give away in tax cuts 40% of the State General fund will be cut.

Public education will be gutted, costing teachers their jobs, forcing more schools to close and increasing class sizes for Kansas children.

State agencies will be slashed, costing state employees their jobs and asking those who remain to do more - and serve more Kansans - with dramatically less.

And absolutely nothing in this tax bill will address the tax that impacts more working families than any other: property tax. In fact this tax bill guarantees that property and sales taxes will go up across Kansas.

Kansans can look-up your representative on our website and find out how they voted on this tax giveaway to corporations and wealthy Kansans.


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