Editor’s note: For the latest news on the school finance bill sent to the governor, go to an updated story here.
Gov. Sam Brownback swiftly vowed a veto after lawmakers approved tax increases of more than $1.2 billion early Tuesday in an effort to close a projected budget gap and pay for new school spending
Brownback vetoed a similar plan earlier this year that also rolled back much of his signature 2012 tax cuts. He said he would do the same with Senate Bill 30.
"Earlier this year, I vetoed a tax increase that threatened to crush the Kansas economy, punishing individual Kansans and their families. Today, with Senate Bill 30, the legislature is looking to hike rates on Kansans even higher," Brownback said in a statement issued seconds after the Legislature approved the bill.
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"Senate Bill 30 is a $1.2 billion tax hike, making it the largest in state history. This is bad for Kansas and bad for the many Kansans who would have more of their hard-earned money taken from them."
Brownback’s statement sets up a fight with lawmakers. Yet to be seen is whether they can override the veto – potentially late Tuesday.
Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, said the plan would shore up state services in the budget.
"This money will be spent in the Kansas economy," she said. "This is going to be investments we are making... Hopefully we will see a return on our investment."
The chambers would need two-thirds majorities – 84 votes in the House and 27 in the Senate – to override a veto. The House passed the bill 69-52. The Senate passed it 26-14.
Lawmakers have been struggling to find a path to end the legislative session, which is now at 109 days and among the longest in state history. They need to close a projected budget gap of about $900 million over the next two years and enact a new school funding plan by June 30, the deadline set by the Kansas Supreme Court.
Failure to address the shortfall and pass a budget could soon jeopardize the state’s ability to pay its workers. State employees working after June 17 are scheduled to receive their paychecks after July 1. That’s when the new fiscal year begins, and without a budget in place, workers won’t get paid.
State budget director Shawn Sullivan said that without legislative action, "we do not have the necessary authority to pay state workers, causing difficult decisions to be made regarding the continued operations of state government."
The tax plan passed overnight replaces the state’s two-bracket income tax system with three brackets. Income up to $30,000 for married couples would be taxed at 3.1 percent, income between $30,000 and $60,000 would be taxed at 5.25 percent, and income above $60,000 would be taxed at 5.7 percent.
The bill also would repeal an exemption on certain business income that Brownback has championed.
Brownback said earlier Monday that a single income tax bracket would be better and that more rates would hurt the effort to "maintain some form of a pro-growth taxation system."
The Senate overwhelmingly rejected a single-rate income tax plan earlier in the session.
Several Republicans said they were not happy about how many concessions had been made to Democratic lawmakers in the bill.
"The things that we were valuing and trying to change the structure of how we tax just went down the drain," said Rep. Kristey Williams, R-Augusta.
Sen. Dennis Pyle, R-Hiawatha, criticized past tax increases for not putting the state on solid financial footing.
He also encouraged his colleagues to read Exodus in the Bible and watch the 1956 epic film “The Ten Commandments” that's "about six hours long" for an anecdote in which the Pharoah profits off peasants gathering more straw to make more bricks.
"I think I’d say exactly what Moses would say: Let my people go," Pyle said.
Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, said Kansans didn't want tax increases on their wages and that the plan would pull more than $1 billion out of the state's economy.
"I don't know how you expect to find growth in that," Masterson said.
But Sen. Randall Hardy, R-Salina, said that most Kansans wanted tax changes. He read a list of conservative senators who were kicked out of office in the Republican primary last August.
Several incumbent Republican lawmakers were ousted by voters in the primary in both the House and Senate.
"That primary was the true poll," Hardy said.
How they voted
Here’s how south-central Kansas lawmakers voted on SB 30, a bill to undo much of Gov. Sam Brownback’s 2012 tax plan. It passed the House 69-52 and the Senate 26-14.
Democrats voting yes: Elizabeth Bishop, John Carmichael, Gail Finney, KC Ohaebosim, Tom Sawyer, Ponka-We Victors, Jim Ward, Wichita; Steven Crum, Haysville; Tim Hodge, North Newton; Patsy Terrell, Hutchinson; Ed Trimmer, Winfield
Republicans voting yes: Steven Becker, Buhler; Mary Martha Good, El Dorado; Anita Judd-Jenkins, Arkansas City
Democrats voting no: Henry Helgerson, Brandon Whipple, Wichita
Republicans voting no: Leo Delperdang, Roger Elliott, Daniel Hawkins, Susan Humphries, Greg Lakin, Brenda Landwehr, Les Osterman, Chuck Weber, John Whitmer, Wichita; Doug Blex, Independence; Jesse Burris, Mulvane; Blake Carpenter, Derby; Kyle Hoffman, Coldwater; Steve Huebert, Valley Center; Don Schroeder, Hesston; Joe Seiwert, Pretty Prairie; Kristey Williams, Augusta
Not voting: Republicans Les Mason, McPherson, and Jack Thimesch, Cunningham
Democrats voting yes: Oletha Faust-Goudeau, Lynn Rogers, Wichita
Republicans voting yes: Ed Berger, Hutchinson; Bruce Givens, El Dorado; Dan Kerschen, Garden Plain; Carolyn McGinn, Sedgwick
Republicans voting no: Mike Petersen, Gene Suellentrop, and Susan Wagle, Wichita; Ty Masterson, Andover; Richard Wilborn, McPherson; Larry Alley, Winfield.
Contributing: Hunter Woodall of the Kansas City Star