Kansas lawmakers look to restart debate over boosting taxes
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Top Republicans were looking Monday to jump start the Kansas Legislature's debate over raising income taxes to fix the state budget, something they saw as crucial to solving public school funding and other spending issues.
Lawmakers returned from their annual spring break with the state facing projected budget shortfalls totaling $889 million through June 2019. The gaps arose following massive personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 championed by GOP Gov. Sam Brownback and later economic slumps in agriculture and energy production.
The Republican-controlled Legislature so far has focused on rolling back past income tax cuts. Brownback vetoed an income-tax bill in February that would have raised $1 billion in new revenue over two years. Lawmakers have struggled since to find an alternative, partly because many of them want a plan with the necessary two-thirds majorities to override another veto.
GOP leaders hoped House and Senate negotiators could get together as soon as Monday afternoon to work on a new tax plan. They said once tax issues are settled, lawmakers can determine how much additional state dollars to provide to public schools in response to a Kansas Supreme Court ruling in March that education funding is inadequate.
Legislators received some good news Monday, when the state Department of Revenue reported that the state's tax collections in April were slightly better than expected. Kansas collected about $639 million in April, about $1.8 million more than anticipated.
Meanwhile, the Senate swore in a new member, GOP Sen. Richard Hilderbrand, of Baxter Springs. Republicans in his southeastern Kansas district picked him to replace former Sen. Jake LaTurner, of Pittsburg, appointed last month by Brownback to fill a vacancy in the state treasurer's office.
Senate President Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican, told Hilderbrand after the brief swearing in ceremony, "It's going to be trial by fire."
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via Education Week American Education News Site of Record May 1, 2017 at 08:48AM