Kan. Lawmakers Unable To Find Smaller Tax Cut Plan

By: AP/Giang Nguyen Email
By: AP/Giang Nguyen Email

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas is headed toward massive income tax cuts because of disagreements between conservative Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and the state Senate's moderate GOP leaders.

Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene (SHUH'-reen) Jones-Sontag said Saturday evening that the governor's office was no longer involved in talks with legislators about taxes.

She said Brownback plans a Monday afternoon ceremony in Wichita to sign legislation to cut individual income tax rates for 2013 and eliminate income taxes for 191,000 businesses.

Many lawmakers fear the income tax cuts will cause big budget problems.

Brownback pushed legislators to cut taxes to stimulate economic growth. He publicly embraced the aggressive package.

But he hadn't ruled out another package emerging, because projections show the cuts he's preparing to sign would create a budget shortfall by July 2014.

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- It's the longest wrap up session in state history. Lawmakers are working overtime Saturday to iron out remaining issues.

At least on taxes, there seems to be an end to long negotiations, though no compromise.

"I'm excited about that tax bill," House Majority Leader Arlen Siegfreid, an Olathe Republican, said. "This is a tax bill that helps working Kansans. By the reinvesting of the money we put back in their pockets, we're going to create more jobs," he said.

The aggressive tax bill would lower individual income taxes and eliminate taxes for 191,000 businesses in one year, rather than an alternative bill that would seek to phase in the cuts over six years.

The bill is headed for Governor Sam Brownback's desk this week, who has said the policy is among the most pro-growth in the nation.

Democrats say the bill will only lead to future spending cuts and create massive budget problems.

The Legislature's research staff has projected that the cuts will lead to a budget shortfall by July 2014 and that the gap would balloon to nearly $2.5 billion by July 2018.

"I think this is really an act of recklessness on behalf of the governor. I mean, he has orchestrated this tax debate from start to finish, and now we have a tax bill that he seems to be prepared to sign that is gonna have some very drastic consequences," House Minority Leader Paul Davis, a Democrat from Lawrence, said.

On redistricting, the House approved a plan that would split Lawrence between the first and second districts.

Davis has joined eight others, including Senate Reapportionment Committee Chairman Tim Owens, a moderate Overland Park Republican, in asking the U.S. District Court to weigh in.

The lawsuit was filed earlier this month by Robyn Renee Essex, a Republican precinct committee member from Olathe. The defendant is Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

"I want to hopefully advocate to the court that we need to adopt a map that conforms with the guidelines that we have adopted in both the House and the Senate, and that is to make sure that we protect communities of interest and really redraw districts based upon geography and demographics and not upon political considerations," he said.

"I'm not happy with it," Siegfreid said of the courts potentially deciding the issue. "We in the House side have passed out a number of maps. We on the House side have done our job and I'm really disappointed that we're going down this route. We should not be going down this route," he said.

Senate Majority Leader Jay Emler was not able to attend sessions Saturday after being hospitalized for high blood pressure. He' is instead resting at home.

The Senate went into session Saturday evening - Senators indicated they may once again be discussing less aggressive income tax cuts. The House reconvenes at 8 p.m. Saturday.

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