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Government

Kansas House Lawmakers Debate Taxes, But Don't Finish Vote

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Stephen Koranda file photo
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Lawmakers in the Kansas House were sharply divided over a tax bill debated last night. The measure seemed to be on its way to failure before the vote was paused at midnight by a legislative rule.

Republican Rep. Marvin Kleeb urged lawmakers to pass the bill, saying it was likely their last option to avoid cuts to state services like K-12 education. They’ve already approved a budget, but it needs around $400 million in new revenue to balance.

“The eyes of Kansas are on us. We were elected to govern. We were elected to provide dollars for a quality education,” Kleeb says.

The bill relies mostly on sales taxes and eliminating tax deductions to cover the shortfall.

Democratic Rep. Tom Sawyer argued against the bill. He says a better option would be amending tax cuts made in 2012 that reduced personal income tax rates and eliminated income taxes for thousands of business owners.

“It seems like most of the people outside this body understand there’s a simple fix, but for some reason we can’t seem to get that passed in this body,” Sawyer says.

The House vote was scheduled to resume at 8:00 this morning.