Kansas Democratic Governor Vetoes GOP Leaders’ Bid for Tax Cuts

Kansas won’t be enacting broad tax cuts that Republican legislators put forward following a veto issued by Democratic Governor Laura Kelly.

As a result of the veto, it will now be two sessions in a row where lawmakers won’t be enacting any major reductions in state taxes.

The state Senate tried to override Kelly’s veto, but it fell short of the two-thirds majority that was needed to do so. The final vote came in at 26-14.

The package included cuts to sales, property and income taxes in the state that would total roughly $1.5 billion over the next three years.

All 11 Democratic senators voted no to overriding the veto, and they were joined by three Republicans. That dashed the hopes of Republican leaders in the state Legislature of flipping at least one Democratic senator.

The state House voted to override the governor’s veto by a 104-15 vote.

In explaining why she vetoed the package, Kelly said she believed it was “too expensive.” She said that the package ultimately would’ve led to significant budget problems in the future for Kansas.

The governor also told her fellow Democrats in state government that the three personal income tax rates that Kansas currently has ensures that wealthy people pay a fair share of taxes.

The Republican proposal would’ve changed that to only two personal income tax rates, reducing the highest rate from 5.7% to 5.55%.

Leaders of the state GOP argued that the difference in long-term costs between the plan that the governor vetoed and a plan that she proposed last week — which was estimated at $1.3 billion over three years — is small enough that they’d have roughly the same effect on the budget in the next five to six years.

Democrats weren’t completely on the same side about whether the plan was fair or not. Almost all of the Democrats in the state House agreed with Republicans that the new plan was good for taxpayers who are considered poor or working class.

Republican leaders didn’t propose a new tax bill before the state Legislature adjourned for the year after business closed on Tuesday.

As Republican Caryn Tyson, the chair of the Senate Tax Committee, said to other members of the state GOP:

“This tax process is baked. We are finished. This is the last train out of the station.”

Kelly also vetoed tax plans Republicans put forth in January and also last year that would’ve changed Kansas to only one personal income tax rate, saying that such a plan would only benefit the “super wealthy.”

Some lawmakers said they were making progress recently in bridging the gap between the GOP proposal and the one Kelly put forth recently. Kelly even promised back in January that she would enact tax relief in the near future, saying she’d “call a special session if I have to.”

That hasn’t happened to this point, though, and it’s unclear if and when it might.