GOP Kansas lawmakers push bill to reverse key income tax cut

In this file photo from June 3, 2015, Sen. Jim Denning, R-Overland Park, left, confers with Senate Vice President Jeff King, R-Independence, right, during the chamber's session at the Statehouse in Topeka.

? A tax break for Kansas business owners championed by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback would be reversed under a proposal introduced Tuesday by three influential GOP state senators.

Senate Vice President Jeff King, of Independence, and Sens. Jim Denning and Greg Smith, both from Overland Park, described their proposal as a tax fairness measure that also would help the state balance its budget. Denning is vice chairman of the budget-writing Ways and Means Committee, and Smith serves on two budget subcommittees.

Their bill would undo a 2012 policy exempting more than 330,000 farmers and business owners from state income taxes. The senators’ proposal would tax 70 percent of their income going forward. The senators didn’t have an estimate for how much their proposal would raise annually.

The state has struggled to balance its budget since lawmakers slashed personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback’s urging in an effort to stimulate the economy. Critics of the business tax cut argue that it’s unfair because doctors, lawyers and other professionals escape income taxes when their employees don’t.

“We are going to have long-term budget challenges unless we fix the gaping hole in our tax code, the part of our tax code that is rife with unfairness,” King said.

But Jeff Glendening, a lobbyist for the anti-tax group Americans for Prosperity, said the income tax exemption helps job creators who take high financial risks to start their businesses and keep them going.

Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley said the governor “will not support or call for a tax increase on small business in Kansas.”