Gov. Sam Brownback said Wednesday that Kansas has taken a “big step backwards” after lawmakers rolled back his signature tax cuts despite his veto.
Brownback said that, given the late moment in the legislative session – the veto override happened on Tuesday, the 109th day of the session – a number of lawmakers “threw their hands up and said this is the only way to go.”
Kansas’ economy will suffer long-term negative consequences, he said, adding that he regretted the decision by made the Legislature.
“A lot of people made it about me, but it’s not about me. It’s about Kansas,” Brownback said. “It’s about the future. It’s about which way we want to go. Do we want to be a high-tax, slow-growth or no-growth state, or a pro-growth state?”
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Brownback made the remarks after a ceremony in which he signed an abortion-related bill into law. He did not answer questions.
“I think it’s the wrong philosophy to implement,” he said of the tax override. “But you get late in the session and things like this happen and move forward because people don’t see another option or another way. And I understand that.”
The Legislature passed the bill – and overrode the governor’s veto – in an effort to close a budget gap estimated at roughly $900 million over the next two years and to pay for hundreds of millions in new school spending. The bill is expected to raise about $1.2 billion over the next two years.
Income taxes will rise across the board, but most tax rates will remain lower than they were before the 2012 tax cuts.
The bill replaces the state’s two-bracket income tax system with three brackets. For married couples, income up to $30,000 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.
In a joint statement, four former governors of Kansas – two Democrats and two Republicans – said the state is now better positioned to begin “our road to recovery.”
“We are pleased the Kansas legislature acted with a 2/3 majority in both chambers to enact the comprehensive tax reform you and your neighbors have urged for so long. But our work isn’t done,” said former Govs. Mike Hayden, John Carlin, Bill Graves and Kathleen Sebelius.
The Kansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity said in a statement that the tax plan came from “Liberal GOP Leadership.” It said it was disappointed in the outcome.
“Although legislators were forced into a difficult decision by their leadership, they failed to address the real issue that put us into this mess to begin with – ever-increasing government spending,” said Jeff Glendening, the organization’s state director.