PITTSBURG — Kansas legislators voted to override a veto by Governor Sam Brownback Tuesday, effectively ending the 2012 tax policy he championed.
The new tax plan passed by legislators is estimated to increase revenue by $1.2 billion over the next two years by retroactively increasing personal income tax rates and eliminating income tax exemptions for over 330,000 business — often referred to as the LLC loophole.
The tax laws also return Kansas to a three-tier tax bracket.
Kansas State Representative Monica Murnan (D-Pittsburg) voted for both the original bill and the veto override. She said the main three components of the bill were a necessary step to get the state back on track.
“Those three things had to be done, but those aspects alone couldn’t get the necessary votes,” Murnan said. “It was a lot of compromise and a lot of communication, and is by no means perfect or a complete fix, but this will stop the bleeding and put money back into schools, community-based services and infrastructure.”
State Senator Richard Hilderbrand (R-Baxter Springs) — who was appointed to fill the seat of former Senator Jake LaTurner — disagrees. Hilderbrand cited concerns with the retroactive nature of the bill. Under the new tax laws, income tax increases will be backdated to take effect January 1, of this year.
He also said the laws put too much burden on the lowest income families in Kansas.
“If you are making under $15,000 a year, income tax rates will increase 15 percent,” he said.
Murnan, however, said these claims are not true.
“Before anybody gets concerned about the impact on low-income and middle-class earners, I urge them to take the time to get the facts straight,” she said. “I have spent days doing the math. It’s easy to pick one thing and say it hurts the lowest earners, but it simply is not true.”
Murnan said she is happy to work with anyone concerned with how the laws will affect them, and work out how it will impact their situation.
Another of Hilderbrand’s concerns was that the new laws push the problem further down the road. He said even with the $1.2 billion increase in revenue, the state is still projected to be in the hole almost $64 million in two years.
“They plan to take more money from the Kansas Department of Transportation, and the laws do not fix KPERS,” he said. “In 2012, the massive tax cut did put Kansas in a bad place, but we just kicked that can further down the road. That means next year there will probably be another push for a tax increase.”
Representative Adam Lusker (D-Frontenac) said the average Kansas will not see much of an increase in income tax. He said the bill adjusted rates to a level still lower than rates prior to 2012, in part by putting over 330,000 business owners — including Lusker — back on the tax roll.
“This is the first step in the right direction,” he said. “This was a great bipartisan effort and the only way to move Kansas forward is to continue to work together and compromise like this into the future.”
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.