Kansas Legislature Debates Tax Plan, Extends Past 90 Days

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- After 90 days in session the Kansas Legislature did not leave Topeka Thursday afternoon.

The Senate is debating a major tax item and an ending point for the legislature may not come until the following week.

Bouth the House and Senate are trying to come up with a tax plan that Democrats and Republicans can agree to.

"Right now we're not accomplishing a whole lot," Senate Minority leader Anthony Hensley said. "The tax plan is where there's a huge difference between the House Republican leadership and the Senate Republican leadership."

The major hang-up has been Republicans who want to continue the 6.3 percent sales tax in effect instead of letting it fall to 5.7 percent as now set by law. They proposed to lower the sales tax on groceries only to 4.95 percent, but keep the 6.3 percent on all other items. House Republicans had offered a compromise to 6 percent.

Governor Brownback said Kansas must raise more sales tax revenue in order to cut income taxes, or face a budget problem.

Hensley said income tax cuts favored by the governor are hurting lower-class citizens.

"The people of Kansas will continue to pay for a legislative session that has no end in sight."

Republican Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce agrees that tax negotiations will keep the session going longer than the original 80 days Republican leaders promised last year.

"When you're doing large-scale tax reform such as a five-year tax relief plan on income taxes, it's difficult to reach consensus," Bruce said.

Majority Republicans have disagreed on how to grow sales tax revenue and still cut income taxes.

Bruce said this is the first time since 1957 that the Kansas legislature has attempted to configure a two-year budget, and agreement is elusive.

He's confident about the Republican leaders' budget plan.

"I think it gives our schools and other government entities more stability as they look into the future and try to budget for themselves and make plans that run government more efficiently," Bruce said.

The legislation continues and both Hensley and Bruce said school finance issues will have to wait for upcoming sessions.


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