News you never see reported in Arizona ….
Something truly remarkable happened last week: the state legislature of Brownbackistan fna Kansas passed an income tax increase to begin repairing the fiscal damage to the state caused by Governor Sam Brownback and Tea-Publicans’ religious experiment in creating a faith based supply-side “trickle down” utopia in America’s heartland. Pigs do fly!
The Kansas City Star reports, Kansas Senate passes tax increases opposed by Gov. Sam Brownback:
Gov. Sam Brownback has a choice to make.
After the Kansas Legislature on Friday approved legislation that would reverse his signature tax cuts, he can veto the bill or let it become law without his signature. He has already said he wouldn’t sign it.
“As with all legislation, Governor Brownback will review the bill closely once he receives it,” the governor’s spokeswoman, Melika Willoughby, said in an email.
The Kansas Senate passed the bill 22-18 Friday morning. Because no amendments were made to the legislation first passed by the House, it heads to the governor’s desk.
The bill is projected to raise more than $1 billion over two years by raising income taxes and ending a tax exemption for roughly 330,000 business owners.
Sen. Barbara Bollier, a Mission Hills Republican who voted for the bill, said the governor could get a popularity boost if he lets the legislation take effect.
“I’m not sure his ratings can go any lower,” Bollier said. “That clearly isn’t going to impact his decision, I don’t think. I would say if he does (let the bill become law), his ratings will go up, and if he had the guts to sign the thing, then they really would.”
Other Republicans said Friday they didn’t see Brownback doing that.
“I would be really surprised if the governor allows this to become law,” said Sen. Jacob LaTurner, a Pittsburg Republican who voted against the bill. “Clearly it’s a long way from what he proposed.”
The state faces roughly $750 million in budget shortfalls over the next two years. A different shortfall of around $320 million this year cannot be mended by the tax increases.
The bill is one of the largest Kansas tax increases in recent memory, coming on the heels of another sizable tax increase in 2015 when lawmakers raised the sales tax and boosted the state’s take on a pack of cigarettes.
The new tax plan would bring in more money by adding a third income tax rate of 5.45 percent for single filers who make more than $50,000 and married joint filers who make more than $100,000.
It also boosts a second income tax rate to 5.25 percent. That rate would be paid by those who file individually and make more than $15,000, but not more than $50,000, and couples filing jointly who make more than $30,000, but not more than $100,000.
A lower tax rate of 2.7 percent, the only rate staying the same, will be for individual Kansans making less than $15,000 and joint filers who take in under $30,000.
Conservative Republicans came out strongly against the bill on the Senate floor.
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Sen. David Haley was one of the last senators to cast his vote in favor of the bill. But the Kansas City, Kan., Democrat did so with some hesitation.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever had a more intense vote in 23 years of being here,” he said.
He and other Democrats said the bill fails to completely mend the problems they see in Kansas.
But lawmakers see it as a start.
The debate Friday morning quickly became an airing of grievances over the issues that have marked the Brownback era.
Conservatives remained supportive of the governor’s policies, decried the increase in taxes on Kansans and said the state has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.
Democrats kept coming back to this point: They believe Brownback’s tax cuts and leadership brought them to a day like this, where tax increases were a path forward.
Senate Vice President Jeff Longbine, an Emporia Republican, said he had some heartburn about the bill. But he’s learned in the Senate that you rarely get everything you want.
“To those that only want what they want, it’s going to be a difficult session,” Longbine said before voting for the bill.
The bill gives lawmakers a path to avoid cuts to education, he said.
“This might be our best shot,” Longbine said.
Brownback has stuck by his 2012 tax cuts, which slashed income tax rates and gave the business tax exemption.
Budget shortfalls, cuts and tax increases of a different kind have followed since that move was made.
A year ago, a bill that would have ended the Brownback tax cut for thousands of business owners couldn’t even make it out of the Kansas House.
But closing the tax exemption known as the LLC loophole became a major issue of the 2016 campaign, where new moderate candidates won spots held by more conservative incumbents.
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Sen. Dinah Sykes, a moderate Republican from Lenexa who was elected last fall, said the bill is a start and gets Kansas on the path that it needs to be on.
“I’m not saying that a vote for taxes is a good vote,” Sykes said. “No one likes paying taxes. But we want to see our schools funded, we want to see our roads kept in good condition, we want to know that when we dial 911, that a firefighter or a police officer are going to show up.”
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Earlier in the week, Brownback asked a small crowd of business owners to go to their senators and oppose the bill.
It appears that effort on the governor’s part was unsuccessful.
The bill passed by the Senate Friday had strong bipartisan support in the House, where it was approved on a final vote of 76 to 48.
Not even Senate Republicans are sure what will happen next.
“I hope the governor vetoes the bill,” said Sen. Dennis Pyle, a Hiawatha Republican. “But I don’t know. I’m like everybody else, million dollar question, what’s the governor going to do?”
Governor Brownback can face reality and admit that his religious experiment in creating a faith based supply-side “trickle down” utopia in Kansas has been a complete disaster and allow this bill to become law without his signature, or he can be a dogmatic ideologue and veto the bill (his veto would be sustained), which will leave Kansas in a fiscal disaster without a way out because of Tea-Publican ideological extremists.
We’ll find out if pigs do fly, or are slaughtered by Tea-Publican ideologues on the altar of religious extremism.
A note of caution: the Arizona legislature could not pass a tax increase by a simple majority vote because of the GOP’s “weapon of mass destrution,” Prop. 108 (1992), the “Two-Thirds for Taxes” amendment.