Gov. Kelly vetoes Republicans’ flat income tax plan

photo by: John Hanna/AP File

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly speaks during a rally for teachers and education funding, April 25, 2023, at the Statehouse in Topeka.

Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly on Friday vetoed a Republican-sponsored tax package that included a single-rate income tax, calling it a “reckless flat tax experiment.”

Although the bill included a number of provisions also included in Kelly’s own tax plan, such as state property tax relief and eliminating taxes on Social Security income, she has remained staunchly opposed to the Republican-led effort to implement a single state income tax rate of 5.25% on all annual income over $6,150.

“I support responsible tax cuts, but I refuse to sign into law a reckless flat tax that would take us back to Brownback while doing next to nothing for the middle class,” she said in a written statement, referring to Republican former Gov. Sam Brownback and the tax cuts implemented during his tenure.

With a state budget surplus, rising costs of living and a looming election, both Republicans and Democrats have said passing tax relief this session is necessary. Both parties support efforts like tying the standard deduction to inflation and eliminating the food sales tax this year rather than in 2025.

But the parties largely differ on income tax. Republicans who support a single-rate or “flat” income tax say it’s fair and would benefit the economy. Kelly and most Democratic lawmakers say it primarily benefits the wealthy and could negatively impact public schools and infrastructure.

In a joint statement issued in response to the governor’s veto, Republican leaders said they would pursue an override of the veto, accusing Kelly of putting “her radical ideology ahead of the people.”

“Governor Kelly has now axed a third tax relief bill in less than a year, choosing political wins over increasing Kansans’ paychecks,” Republican House Speaker Dan Hawkins said.

The House appears to have the two-thirds majority it would need to override Kelly’s veto, with support from most Republicans and Democrat Marvin Robinson. But the bill did not reach that majority when it passed in the Senate, with opposition from two Republicans and independent conservative Sen. Dennis Pyle.

— Daniel Caudill reports on the Kansas Statehouse and government for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service.


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