TOPEKA – After an almost four hour call of the House, the chamber narrowly passed a tax package sending it to the governor.
The package, which would raise $314 million, relies mostly on a three year, 1-cent sales tax increase. It passed 63-61 and now goes to Gov. Mark Parkinson’s desk.
“I look at the names of some of those voting yes and know they are compromising themselves as well as not representing their districts,” said Rep. Virgil Peck, R-Tyrone.
The chamber waited three hours for him to return from his home in southeast Kansas near the Oklahoma border. He was called back by a call of the House where they hold the roll open, close the doors and require all lawmakers to be in their seats.
At the start of the four hour wait, the vote teetered back and forth between passage and failure several times before settling on a passing vote.
The measure would raise the state sales tax rate to 6.3 percent from 5.3 percent. After three years, the rate would drop to 5.7 percent; the remaining 4/10ths of a percent would help pay for road projects.
Without the tax increase, the $13.6 billion budget approved by the Senate earlier in the day won’t balance to zero, as required by the state Constitution. The budget needs about $300 million in new revenue to be balanced.
Democrats immediately called for the measure to be reconsidered, which can be done only once. The chamber turned down the option locking the vote in and passing the tax package.
The tax package and the accompanying budget bill were two of the major hurdles the Legislature had to clear before wrapping up the 2010 session.
The House still needs to debate a 10-year $8.2 billion transportation package which is a high priority for the Senate, an a nursing home bed assessment fee proposal.
Below is Parkinson’s response to the tax package’s passage:
"After much debate, honorable members of the legislature have come together to preserve the foundation of our state for future generations. I offer my gratitude to those who were willing to show vision, leadership and determination during these challenging times.
"The bipartisan, balanced budget on its way to my desk reflects the values and priorities of Kansans. The one-cent sales tax is a temporary solution which prevents permanent damage to our children's education, our communities' public safety and the care we provide to vulnerable citizens.
"No tax is a good tax, but a penny is a small price to pay for a state as great as ours."