Kansas governor to veto income tax hike meant to fix budget

Gov. Sam Brownback (KSN File Photo)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says he will veto a bipartisan bill that would roll back personal income tax cuts he’s championed to help balance the state budget.

The conservative Republican governor announced his planned action Tuesday, four days after the GOP-controlled Legislature approved the measure. The bill’s tax increases would raise more than $1 billion over two years starting in July.

In an op-ed article sent to the media from the governor’s office, Brownback called the tax plan “punative,” “retroactive and thus incredibly unfair.”

Brownback has criticized the measure as harmful to middle-class families and small business owners. Supporters say it’s necessary to help close projected budget shortfalls totaling nearly $1.1 billion through June 2019.

Kansas has struggled to balance the budget since GOP lawmakers slashed personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback’s urging.

The bill would increase income tax rates and end an exemption for farmers and business owners.

Read the governor’s op-ed article below.

Protecting Kansas Workers and Families

Gov. Sam Brownback

Since the pioneers moved westward across the country and settled this fertile ground, our state has always held a promise for those who came here—that through dedication and hard work your standing in life can improve. One of my primary goals as Governor is to make it easier for Kansans to thrive and to accomplish their dreams. That is precisely why we cut income taxes on all Kansans several years ago, working to make Kansas the best state in America to raise a family and grow a business.

Last week, both chambers of the Kansas legislature voted to raise taxes on Kansans making over $15,000. Not only did they raise taxes on single Kansans earning more than $9.74 an hour, but they did so before even passing a budget. By doing this, legislators said that the hard-working people of Kansas must find savings in their own personal budgets before their elected representatives can be bothered to find savings in the state’s budget. This mindset is unacceptable.

I am vetoing HB 2178, the punitive tax increase on working Kansans. I am vetoing it because the legislature failed to fulfill my request that they find savings and efficiencies before asking the people of Kansas for more taxes. I am vetoing it because Kansas families deserve to keep more of their hard-earned cash. I am vetoing it because it is retroactive and thus incredibly unfair.

Legislators who voted for this largest tax hike in Kansas history will try to persuade you that it is primarily a tax on wealthy business owners. This is false. Rather, this bill is an assault on the pocketbooks of the middle class. These legislators campaigned saying they were going to raise some other guy’s taxes. But when the votes were finally cast, they raised yours.

Above all else, we must remember that tax dollars do not belong to the government. They belong to the families, individuals, and job-creators who earn a paycheck. It is wrong for government to take more tax dollars than are absolutely necessary to provide for the core functions of the state.

Should the legislature override this veto, Kansans are the ones who will pay the price. It doesn’t have to be this way; there is another option. My budget proposal does not target Kansas families or the working class, but still achieves structural balance. I urge you to call your legislator and tell them to find savings in government before asking you and your family for more money. After all, it’s your money, not the government’s. As the stewards of your tax dollars, legislators must be fiscally responsible with your money. It is not too late; the legislature still has time to choose fiscal responsibility over tax increases on Kansas families.


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