House overrides Brownback's veto of tax bill

"Rome is burning and our constituents expect the fire department to show up", said Democratic State Representative Adam Lusker during the House override vote.

This has led the government to make several unpopular budget cuts, including cuts to higher education, that have made even Republicans in the state willing to roll back some of the Brownback tax cuts.

"Half of a billion dollars will come due in 2019 and over one billion by 2022, years in which we have planned funding specifically to invest in modernizing our state's infrastructure", Snyder said in a statement.

Kansas's state budget has been in disarray ever since Brownback and the Kansas legislature slashed taxes starting in 2012, as revenue for the state has routinely fallen well short of projections. Even some Republicans concluded that Brownback's tax-cutting experiment had been a bust as an economic stimulus, and voters ousted two dozen Brownback allies from the Legislature, giving Democrats and GOP moderates more power.

Although this bill goes a long way towards repairing Kansas fiscal structure, Gov. Brownback has condemned the bill as "a big step backwards".

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It would have increase income tax rates and ended an exemption for more than 330,000 farmers and business owners.

Kansas is facing its third major tax increase to fill budget gaps in the five years since the first Brownback-inspired income taxes were enacted. He argues that Kansas should not abandon such policies when President Donald Trump and other Republican governors are pursuing income tax cuts that they say would create economic growth. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, proposes an amendment to Senate Bill 188 while on the floor of the Kansas Senate on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017 in Topeka, Kansas.

The bill approved by lawmakers would raise the top income tax rate from 4.6 percent to 5.45 percent. It is the state's largest business group, a powerful voice within the Republican Party and a stronger backer of income tax cuts.

The governor later issued a lengthy statement in which he called the bill's tax increases "punitive".

  • Delia Davidson