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Senate, House dealing on tax and budget issues as wrap-up session continues

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Topeka — Senate Republicans on Wednesday proposed a 6.25 percent state sales tax rate and a 5.7 percent rate on food.

Legislators, lobbyists, media fill House-Senate tax conference committee meeting.

Legislators, lobbyists, media fill House-Senate tax conference committee meeting. by Scott Rothschild

A side-by-side of tax proposal offers between House and Senate.

A side-by-side of tax proposal offers between House and Senate. by Scott Rothschild

House Republican leaders said they would come back later this afternoon to tell the Senate what they thought of the plan.

The current state sales tax is 6.3 percent, but is scheduled to fall to 5.7 percent on July 1.

Republicans say they need to keep the sales tax higher to shore up state coffers — depleted by last year's income tax cuts — and to buy down more income tax reductions over the next six years. Democrats say the income tax cuts benefit the wealthy and will reduce revenue needed for essential state services.

Under the latest Senate proposal, itemized deductions would be eliminated over six years, except for charitable contributions. The standard deduction would also be cut to $5,000 from $9,000 for head of household, and to $6,500 from $9,000 for married filing jointly.

By 2018, income tax rates would be cut to 3.5 percent from 4.9 percent on the top rate, and to 2.5 percent from 3 percent on the bottom rate.

Agreement on tax changes is essential to getting movement on a state budget. Legislators are in the 89th day of the session. Earlier, GOP leaders said they wanted to finish the session in 80 days.

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