Topeka The political explosion over tax cuts that rocked the Kansas Legislature was detonated by Gov. Sam Brownback and continued Thursday to produce fallout.
On Wednesday, as the Senate was getting ready to debate an income and business tax cut bill that was composed by a House-Senate conference committee, Brownback told Republicans in the House to approve a larger tax cut package to apply pressure to moderate Republicans in the Senate.
“I think it would be better if we did the conference report, but I am not the least bit confident that’s going to get to me, and then we’re left with nothing,” Brownback told the House GOP caucus just before the House came into session.
“I think it would help stimulate the legitimate discussions and negotiations taking place between the House and Senate on taxes if you were to concur with the Senate package that is in front of you today. I think that would be a better route to go.”
His comments were recorded by a reporter for the Kansas Education Policy Report.
When the House started work, House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, commandeered passage of the larger tax cut bill, which was sent to Brownback on a 64-59 vote.
Brownback has said that while he would prefer the conference committee tax cut, he is prepared to sign into law the larger tax cut despite state projections that the proposal would produce a budget shortfall of $2.7 billion by 2017. With state expenditures running at approximately $6.2 billion per year, many legislators say such a large tax cut would force cuts to schools and social services.
After the House action, Brownback said, “It is important to recognize that the debate in Kansas has changed from how we grow state government to about how we grow the state’s economy. After a decade of lost jobs and people, Kansas is now on the path of economic growth and job creation.”
And Americans for Prosperity praised the House. “We applaud the leaders of the Kansas House for this bold move toward tax relief,” said Derrick Sontag, AFP-Kansas state director.
Criticism of the arm-twisting and the possibility of such a mammoth tax cut becoming law also was lodged.
Kansas National Education Association President Blake West noted that Brownback has said educating children is to state government as national defense is to the federal government. “The impact on education will be the equivalent of shuttering the Pentagon,” West said of the tax bill.
“I urge policymakers to find some means to rescind the actions of the House, return to a reasoned discussion, and allow the voices of Kansans to be heard through the legislative process rather than railroaded through the autocratic manipulations of a few to the benefit of only a handful of wealthy Kansans,” West said.