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Kansas Lawmakers Regrouping After Tax Veto

Stephen Koranda
Kansas Public Radio/File photo
Senate President Susan Wagle speaking to reporters earlier this month.

Kansas lawmakers are regrouping on the issue of taxes. This week, Gov. Sam Brownback vetoed a tax increase that would have helped balance the budget.

Kansas Senate leaders have been frustrated after Brownback announced he would veto the tax bill, which would have rolled back many of his signature 2012 tax cuts. 

“The House leadership and the Senate leadership asked the governor that if he was going to veto the bill, that he give us a budget plan that we can vote for in the House and the Senate," Senate President Susan Wagle said. "That didn’t come."

Wagle said she’s now planning to debate the governor’s tax proposal in the Senate. It focuses on tobacco and alcohol taxes, as well as raising some business fees. Part of her reasoning is to show the governor that his plan doesn’t have a lot of support.

“I think that we need to talk about his plan and let everybody share their concerns publicly about his proposals,” Wagle said.

Republican House tax committee chairman Steven Johnson said he has some similar concerns. He said he would also like new options from the governor.

“You can’t just say ‘no.’ We have to hear ‘no…but.’ As we try and get to a solution, we have to say, ‘I can’t do that, but here is something that might work,’” Johnson said.

Reporters asked Brownback this week if he would be offering new plans.

“I put one forward. I would hope it would get a full and fair airing. I’ve gone to the Senate president and the speaker and said ‘I’m willing to work with you on adjustments to this plan or another plan,’” Brownback said.

It looks like Brownback may now be moving to develop new proposals. His budget director, Shawn Sullivan, says he’s joining the effort.

“The governor has asked me to work with Senate and House leadership and others over the next couple days to try to develop a number of alternatives,” Sullivan said.

Lawmakers are now on a week-long break. Those alternatives could see the light of day when they get back.

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.