Topeka A new tax-cutting plan emerged Wednesday and quickly gained the support of Gov. Sam Brownback. But the proposal's fate was uncertain.
"I hope for the best but I'm not going to hazard a guess," said state Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita, and chair of the Senate tax committee.
Donovan accepted an offer from House negotiators that would reduce state personal income tax rates and business taxes.
Votes on the package in the full House and Senate could start as early as Thursday.
"Both chambers should approve the compromise bill and send it to me," Brownback said in a statement.
But Donovan said he doubted if Senate leaders would buy into the plan. "I don't have much hope that the Senate is going to approve this offer," he said.
A bi-partisan group of moderate Republicans and Democrats have argued for smaller tax cuts and restoring funds to education and social services that were cut during the recession.
But in recent days, the dynamics of the tax debate has gotten rough and tumble.
Brownback and House Speaker Mike O'Neal, both conservative Republicans, maneuvered a tax cut through the Legislature that would produce a deficit in the $2.5 billion to $3 billion range in 2018, according to state projections.
Even so, Brownback has said he is prepared to sign that plan into law.
The newest proposal takes a slower approach in phasing in the tax cuts, and would maintain positive ending balances in future years, according to the Kansas Legislature Research Department.
The plan would collapse the three income tax rates into two, reduce the lowest tax rate from 3.5 percent to 3 percent and set the highest rate, currently at 6.45 percent, at 5.5 percent, and then drop that gradually to 4.9 percent in 2018. It would also phase-in the elimination of taxes on non-wage income for businesses over six years. This is aimed at 191,000 businesses, such as limited liability corporations, subchapter S corporations and sole proprietorships.
The proposal also would reduce the Earned Income Tax Credit, but negotiators removed an earlier provision which would have required eligible taxpayers take either the EITC or food sales tax rebate. Under the new plan, they can take both credits.
The House's chief tax negotiator, state Rep. Richard Carlson, R-St. Marys, said he would push for House approval. "I believe it is substantially the same as our original conference committee report," he said.
Donovan said one of the best aspects of the new plan is that it is not the plan that Brownback said he could sign.
"This is good for everybody in the state," he said.
Democrats, however, were critical of the tax debate, and Brownback's threat to sign the larger tax-cutting bill. “Gov. Brownback’s Washington-style politics have resulted in Washington-style gridlock,” said House Democratic Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence. “The Legislature is stalled because Gov. Brownback is playing a game of political chicken," he said.