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Tax Plan Advances in Kansas House Committee

Stephen Koranda
KPR/File photo

While one tax plan stalls in the Kansas Senate, another tax proposal makes headway in the Kansas House.

Thursday, the House tax committee advanced a bill that would eliminate an income tax exemption for business owners. It would also add a third income tax bracket and raise income tax rates.

Some Republicans say the income tax hikes are too steep for them to support. Others, like Republican Representative Melissa Rooker, say it would help with the state’s finances.

“I think, overall, the people of the state of Kansas expect us to fix the fiscal crisis we’re in. I don’t see how we do it without restoring a third tax bracket,” Rooker says.

Rooker says the proposed tax rate would still be lower than before Kansas started cutting taxes in 2012.

The plan also has the support of the top Democrat in the House, Jim Ward.

"I think that was a good, bipartisan effort to address the structural budget problem that everybody knows exists," Ward says.

Republican House Speaker Ron Ryckman isn't taking a strong position on the bill, but he says it's never easy to get a majority vote on a tax plan.

"It's the beginning of the process. Any time you're asked to look at revenue enhancements, to get to 63 votes, that's very problematic," Ryckman says.

On the idea of having three tax brackets, Ryckman says he'll leave it up to the full House to decide.

"We had three, we narrowed it to two. I think a lot of people would like to see a simpler, broader tax plan," Ryckman says.

Democrats in the Kansas Senate have also released a plan that would add a third tax bracket for higher-income Kansans. The state used to have three, but after the 2012 tax cut, the state was left with just two income tax brackets.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Radio covering health, education and politics.