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Archive for Thursday, March 22, 2012

Reversal of fortune: Senate changes Brownback tax plan then votes it down, then votes it up

March 22, 2012

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— The Kansas Senate on Wednesday pulled a U-turn to drive the Legislature closer to cutting taxes, and Gov. Sam Brownback is ready to step on the gas.

“We are one step closer to hitting the accelerator on the emerging Kansas economy,” Brownback said. “The Senate took an important step towards growing the Kansas economy and creating new jobs.”

Democrats, however, said Brownback’s tax cutting plan was reckless and would hurt middle-class families and public schools.

Brownback’s praise came after Republican leaders in the Senate, in a stunning reversal, passed a tax bill just two hours after voting it down.

Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, voted against the tax measure, which initially stalled on a 20-20 vote, and then for it as it passed, 29-11.

“There was a lot of interest in making sure we had something to go to conference,” Morris said, referring to a House-Senate conference committee that will work on taxes. Asked whether Brownback, a Republican, leaned on senators to have the vote reconsidered, Morris declined to answer.

Sherriene Jones-Sontag, a spokeswoman for Brownback, said the governor and his staff spoke to several senators between the two votes.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said Brownback “resorted to backdoor arm-twisting to get his tax plan through the Senate this morning.”

House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, said the Brownback-Senate tax plan was fiscally irresponsible.

“We can’t afford to begin restoring the hundreds of millions in cuts we’ve made to public schools if we’re bleeding $800 million a year in revenue for tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthy. This puts us on a collision course with either devastating budget deficits or even more crippling budget cuts,” Davis said.

Brownback wants to cut the top state income tax rates and eliminate income taxes for 191,000 partnerships, sole proprietorships and other businesses. His plan would also do away with deductions and credits and keep in place the current 6.3 percent state sales tax.

But on Tuesday as the Senate worked on the plan, it voted to lower the state sales tax as currently scheduled to 5.7 percent on July 1, 2013, and put back in the deductions, such as mortgage interest and charitable contributions.

Supporters of Brownback said the opposition was trying to kill the governor’s plan through the amendments.

Initially, it looked like that happened. As the Senate reconvened Wednesday morning, all eight Senate Democrats and 12 of the Senate’s 32 Republicans, opposed the final product. State Sen. Pete Brungardt, R-Salina, voted against it, saying it “does not fund state government” because it would cut $3.7 billion over five years.

But later in the morning, Brungardt moved that the Senate reconsider the vote. Again, eight Democrats voted against the bill but were joined by only three Republicans. Nine Republicans switched their votes.

Senators also approved a bill to provide $180 million over the next four years to cities and counties to cut property taxes.

The House has approved a tax plan that contains some of Brownback’s proposal but added removal of the state sales tax on groceries, which would reduce revenue by more than $300 million per year.

Comments

08Champs 2 years, 9 months ago

Small adjustment suggested - "then" votes it down.

hyperinflate 2 years, 9 months ago

"said the administration will continue working with legislators to hammer out a tax cutting plan"

Ah, for the heady days of early 2011 when, basking in teabagger glory, the Brownback administration could "hammer through" their every whim and desire.

Bob_Keeshan 2 years, 9 months ago

Democrats last controlled the Kansas Senate in 1912.

So in 1912 a similar question could have been asked.

Dave Trabert 2 years, 9 months ago

Party labels in Kansas have been meaningless for a long time. It is not about Ds and Rs. I would submit that it is really about Es, Ls and Os...those who have a philosophical belief in Expanded government...those who have a philosophical belief in the Constitutional principles of Limited government...and the Opportunists...those who have no true philosophical belief but take positions that are in their own best interests.

kochmoney 2 years, 9 months ago

I'd submit it's really about money. Namely, who's paying you. I live in Lawrence, and comment here as a concerned citizen. You're a paid propagandist from Wichita that comments here out of a deliberate social media campaign.

sad_lawrencian 2 years, 9 months ago

"Asked if Brownback, a Republican, twisted arms to have the vote reconsidered, Morris declined to answer."

That says all I need to know.

Michael LoBurgio 2 years, 9 months ago

House Republican 2013 fiscal year budget

Here are some funding areas that were recommended for cuts in the House 2013 budget:

· Community Health Centers were cut $1.8 million for screenings for non-Medicaid patients. Right now, even if you are not Medicaid eligible, you can go to a local community mental health center and talk to someone for an initial screening. Now those people will be turned away.

· Family Centered Systems of Care was eliminated. This provides mental health services for families with children with serious emotional disturbances.

· Family Preservation Reduction was cut by $654,000. This program helps families stay together and cuts about 600 families from the program.

· Children’s Initiatives Funds were cut about $15 million. This includes a number of early childhood education programs.

· $157,000 was cut from Addiction and Prevention Services grants, cutting services to about 100 Kansans.

· Cut foster care contract rates by $2.3 million and foster care reimbursement rates by $3.4 million.

· Cut child support enforcement contracts by $1.4 million.

· Cut funding by $2.1 million for children over the age of 13 in SRS custody. This will mean more kids over the age of 13 who were in foster care due to out-of-control behavior, truancy, overwhelmed parents, etc., will not be covered. They will have to stay at home.

· Cut support for Centers for Independent Living by 18%. This supports Kansans with developmental disabilities.

· Reduce foster parent training by 13 percent or $111,000.

· State employees get no raises and their longevity pay (for employees with 10 years or more service) is reduced.

James Nelson 2 years, 9 months ago

Is this like Sen. John Kerry when he said "I voted against it before I voted for it?"

William Weissbeck 2 years, 9 months ago

This is the same idiocy as the Paul Ryan budget which wants to cap federal revenues at 3 percent of GDP, but also set defense spending at 3 percent of GDP (Romney wants 4 percent). Unless this is magic math, then after we've paid for the military there will be nothing left.

JackMcKee 2 years, 9 months ago

So what's in the bill and what's not in the bill, LJWorld? Did the income tax exemption for businesses survive? That's the silliest part of this whole boondoggle, but there are a lot of others that are close behind.

KWCoyote 2 years, 8 months ago

Brownback, encouraged by the Koch brothers and other rich backers, is waltzing this state into a financial calamity. Brownback and the Republican Party will very soon be recognized as evil (not merely incompetent) by a vast majority of Kansas citizens. Expect a recall election for Brownback and a lot of Republican legislators. Expect repercussions for the Koch brothers and other conservative backers of Brownback's idiotic initiatives.

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