TOPEKA — Democrats tried to put Gov. Sam Brownback’s latest tax-cutting proposal to the test Friday by attaching it to another bill intended to fix technical flaws in last year’s tax cuts.
Wichita Democratic Rep. Nile Dillmore said he pushed Brownback’s plan to a vote in the House to provoke a debate on one of the session’s most important bills.
“The governor has offered a tax plan, a very grand tax plan for this year, and my belief is the grand ideas deserve grand debate,” he said.
It generated discussion.
But the 118-0 vote against Brownback’s plan gave no indication of whether House Republicans are poised to support the governor’s plan to drop income tax rates, eliminate some popular tax deductions and continue a temporary sales tax hike.
Democrats opposed the plan outright. Republicans said it was premature to vote on it because it’s still being debated by House and Senate committees that may make some changes to make it more palatable to the Republican-dominated chambers.
“It doesn’t mean anything at this point whatsoever,” said Secretary of Revenue Nick Jordan. “We’re still working and hoping to pass this.”
He acknowledged the plan has been criticized by some Republicans, but he said those Republicans agree with lowering taxes again this year.
Jordan said many people have proposed alternatives, but none has been vetted enough to support.
The bill Democrats tried to tack Brownback’s plan onto made a series of changes to the tax cuts approved last year.
Last year’s tax cut didn’t give banks organized as Subchapter S corporations — about two out of three Kansas banks — the same tax breaks it gave about 191,000 other businesses and farms. And it eliminated the ability of bank shareholders to deduct their share of a bank holding company’s tax losses.
That turned out to be an estimated $2.5 million tax increase for those corporate bank holding company shareholders.
Lawmakers gave tentative approval to a fix to prevent that.
But not before Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, tried to also reinstate the child and dependent care tax credit that was eliminated as part of last year’s income tax cut bill.
That credit provided about $9.5 million to 71,963 taxpayers who are caring for children or people with disabilities.
“Since we are saying we want to take some time and give bankers back their tax cut, I think we should give working moms their tax cut too,” he said.
Rep. Richard Carlson, R-St. Marys, said 19 credits were eliminated. He asked fellow lawmakers to oppose Ward’s amendment because a bill to reinstate the credit is awaiting a hearing in the House tax committee.
The Republican-dominated House defeated Ward’s proposal 88-30.