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Another Tax Plan Headed For Debate In The Kansas Legislature

Stephen Koranda
Rep. Steven Johnson speaking during the meeting.

Kansas lawmakers will debate another tax hike that would help erase a budget deficit. A conference committee made up of members of the House and Senate advanced a bill Monday that's similar to a tax plan that was vetoed by Gov. Sam Brownback.

The proposal would reinstate a third Kansas income tax bracket. The state's top rate would go from the current 4.6 percent to 5.45 percent in 2018. The lowest income tax rate, 2.7 percent, would remain unchanged.

Republican Rep. Steven Johnson said legislative leaders were coming back to the same ideas during tax talks.

“It’s very similar to what we tried in the past. There did seem to be a fair amount of agreement coalescing around this,” Johnson said.

The proposal would also end an income tax exemption for more than 330,000 business owners.

Republican Sen. Caryn Tyson voted to move the plan forward for debate in the full chambers, even though she has concerns about some tax changes being retroactive.

“I’m willing to allow the body to have a discussion and to make a decision on this bill. Each senator needs to decide for their district what they think is best,” Tyson said.

Lawmakers need to eliminate budget gaps that total just under $900 million through the middle of 2019. This tax plan would raise about that amount. Lawmakers have struggled to balance the budget since the state started cutting taxes in 2012.

Democratic Sen. Tom Holland said the proposal doesn't take into account additional money needed for a new school funding plan. He said if this plan passed, that would mean more talk of taxes to fund education.

"We're asking legislators really to take two bites of the apple," Holland said.