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Kansas GOP lawmakers clear way for big votes

06 June 2017

The House and Senate spent all day, and well into the night, debating and passing key pieces of legislation, including one that Governor Brownback says he will veto.

Senate Bill 30 is a $1.2 billion tax hike, making it the largest in state history. Lawmakers met Monday for the 108th day of what was supposed to be a 100-day session. When House Bill 2178 was passed in February, his veto forced the Legislature to attempt an override - something the House was able to accomplish, but not the Senate.

It is unclear what Mr. Brownback plans to do with the bill, according to the Star.

The bill is a response to a midsummer deadline to either approve costly security upgrades at the state's two mental hospitals and its two hospitals for the developmentally disabled or allow concealed weapons into their buildings.

Legislators felt compelled to revisit concealed carry laws this year after Brownback proposed having his cash-strapped state spend $24 million over two years to upgrade security at the state's two mental hospitals and its two hospitals for the developmentally disabled. Lawmakers still need to close a $900 million budget gap projected for the next two fiscal years and appropriate more money for education after the state Supreme Court found schools were underfunded.

Republican lawmakers have cleared the way for vote in the Kansas House on a plan that would increase income taxes and boost state spending on public schools.

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Lawmakers in the Senate said they thought he may not sign the bill after an NRA-endorsed amendment was defeated on the Senate floor.

Kansas state Rep. Melissa Rooker, right, R-Fairway, speaks to fellow House Republicans about a school funding and tax package, as Rep. Larry Campbell, R-Olathe, follows along, Monday, June 5, 2017, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. Some GOP moderates don't like the tactic either and objected to both tax and education provisions. Conservative legislators complained the bill was too generous, while liberal members indicated it was insufficient.

The tax credit program was a flash point for several lawmakers. Wichita schools superintendent John Allison had said meeting payroll would be in question and payment to vendors may have been late.

"We're hoping that this will give him another reason not to veto", Denning said.

The House Children and Seniors Committee inserted the task force bill into the shell of a Senate bill in March after collecting testimony from law enforcement, lawyers, foster parents and others involved in the child welfare system. The Senate approved it hours later, 23-17.

In the House, Lawrence Reps. Barbara Bollier, a Mission Hills Republican. Marci Francisco of Lawrence and Tom Holland of Baldwin City both voted no. Not enough of them to pass or kill a bill, but enough to make reaching 84 votes in the House and 27 votes in the Senate hard, which means they can demand something or other to hold their noses and vote for a bill with an LLC tax in it.

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It would also re-establish a third, upper tax bracket and raise individual rates across the board.

The tax proposal would undo numerous state's 2012 tax cuts to help eliminate a budget shortfall.

"We are increasing our spending by tens of millions of dollars, unnecessarily, so we can impose hundreds of millions in tax increases", said Sen.

Brownback said the income tax increase would hurt job creation.

Separately, the bill would expand a school choice program that funds scholarships for children from low-income families to attend private schools instead of their local public option. "And the taxpayers, I don't believe, are paying for us to do that". Randall Hardy, a moderate Salina Republican who unseated a Brownback ally previous year. Tom Arpke, a conservative Republican, in the GOP primary. It rolls back past income tax cuts championed by Brownback as pro-growth policies.

"I don't know if it's going to end up being something that will work or not, but I'll look at it and see, if it makes it to me", Brownback said.

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The vote on the mega-deal was 32-91. Ballard, Highberger, Sloan and Wilson all voted for the tax bill; Rep. Karleskint voted no.

Kansas GOP lawmakers clear way for big votes