TOPEKA Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would undo his signature income tax cut, setting up a confrontation with the Republican-led Legislature, which immediately set about trying to override him.
The state House has started debating whether to override the conservative Republican-governor's veto. The bill would need two-thirds majorities in both legislative chambers, and it didn't have such support when it was passed last week.
"Now it's time for the Legislature to rise up and do its job," said Democratic Sen. Tom Holland, of Baldwin City.
The bill would have raised more than $1 billion over two years, starting in July. It would have rolled back tax policies Brownback has championed by raising income tax rates and ending an exemption for more than 330,000 farmers and business owners.
Brownback vetoed the measure the morning after pledging to do so during a speech to an annual banquet of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. It is the state's largest business group, a powerful voice within the Republican Party and a stronger backer of income tax cuts.
"I've been against income tax increases as long as I've been in public life," Brownback said during a Statehouse news conference after signing his veto message to lawmakers.
Kansas has struggled to balance its budget since GOP lawmakers slashed income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback's urging. The state faces projected budget shortfalls totaling nearly $1.1 billion through June 2019.
The governor called the proposed tax increases "punitive." He's long touted the 2012 and 2013 tax cuts as pro-growth policies that are models for other states and the federal government.
Supporters of the bill see it as necessary for balancing the budget without deep cuts in aid to public schools and government programs. Brownback has proposed raising cigarette and liquor taxes and increasing annual filing fees paid by for-profit businesses, along with internal government borrowing and other accounting moves.