Gov. Kelly vetoes 2nd GOP tax relief plan

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly speaks to reporters, Monday, April 22, 2019, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kansas. (AP Photo/John Hanna)
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Gov. Laura Kelly officially rejected a Republican-led tax relief plan designed to ensure people who paid less in federal taxes didn't end up paying more in state taxes.

Kelly said the measure, HB 2033, didn't represent responsible or commonsense policy and would "decimate the state's ability to pay our bills and invest in our people."

"Successful tax reform must be shaped by a thoughtful, big-picture vision – not by a rushed attempt to achieve an immediate political victory," she said. "Pro-business, pro-growth, pro-family tax policy can absolutely reshape Kansas for the better, but only if it fixes the failures of the past, not repeats them."

The bill would save taxpayers roughly $90 million during the budget year beginning in July and about $240 million over three years. It was less than half the size of a GOP tax relief plan that Kelly vetoed in late March. The Kelly Administration projected it would create a billion dollar deficit within three years.

Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) said they went "back to the drawing board" after the first bill was vetoed to draft the new legislation and the Democratic governor's latest veto shows she did not want to compromise with her Republican counterparts.

Wagle argued the bill "would have allowed Kansans to benefit from the Trump-tax cuts, reduce food sales tax, and increase our state’s competitiveness. Sadly, Laura Kelly’s tax increase will take money from hardworking Kansans and place it in the coffers of big government.”

Kelly's action Friday is likely to lead to an effort by GOP lawmakers to override her veto on May 29, their last day in session this year.

In her veto statement, Kelly laid out her goals for any tax plan, including lowering what she described as "our state's unacceptably high tax on food." She also wants to rebuild the state's rainy-day fund.

She also pointed out the state has not conducted a non-partisan study focusing on creating a fair code and incentives growth in both rural and urban communities since 1995.

"Successful tax reform must be shaped by a thoughtful, big-picture vision – not by a rushed attempt to achieve an immediate political victory," she said, adding that her administration plans to announce a plan in the coming weeks.

Senate House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins argued that by waiting until after the legislative session ended to announce a plan Kelly is showing "extreme disrespect to the people of Kansas who will pay higher taxes than before" and questioned her leadership abilities.

"Playing arm-chair quarterback by choosing to engage after session is over and vetoing not one, but two commonsense tax relief plans does not display the kind of fiscally-responsible leadership candidate Kelly promised,” he said.