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Kansas Legislators Pass a Tax Bill, Yet Tax Reductions May Still Not Occur

Kansas lawmakers (Credits: AP News)

Despite internal divisions, Kansas lawmakers have yet to implement income tax reductions for their constituents, despite a trend of tax cuts in other states.

In a move early Saturday, the state’s Republican-majority Legislature passed a tax reduction bill aiming to lower income, sales, and property taxes by over $1.5 billion across three years.

However, Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s prior indications and a statement from a senior aide suggest a possible veto, with an override looking uncertain due to the required two-thirds majority in both legislative chambers.

Kansas lawmakers approve a tax bill (Credits: MSN)

This impasse mirrors the beginning of the year, with GOP leaders advocating for a unified personal income tax rate replacing the current tiered system, a change Governor Kelly opposes.

This deadlock has also stalled other tax relief measures, such as removing Social Security taxes for retirees and decreasing the state-enforced property taxes that fund public education.

Kansas is experiencing a revenue surplus projected to exceed $3.7 billion by mid-2025. This makes its stagnation on tax reforms contrast starkly with states like Georgia, which recently enacted favored tax cuts under Republican leadership. Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes expressed skepticism about the bill’s passage, highlighting Governor Kelly’s likely veto based on discussions.

The legislation proposes reducing the state’s three personal income tax brackets to two, with a top rate of 5.55%. It includes provisions to eliminate Social Security income taxes for those earning below $75,000 annually, among other tax relief measures.

Kansas Governor Kelly (Credits: AP News)

The Senate and House votes reflected a division among Democrats, with the Senate mostly opposing and the House unanimously supporting the bill. Historically, Governor Kelly has endorsed legislation with strong bipartisan support, but on tax issues, the Senate’s alignment has prevented overrides of her vetoes.

The Legislature’s spring recess begins now, with plans to resume on April 25 for the session’s final days. Concerns about the bill’s long-term budget implications linger, especially recalling the fiscal turmoil following tax cuts under former Governor Sam Brownback, which led to budget shortfalls until reversed in 2017.

Governor Kelly, who opposed Brownback’s tax policies during her senatorial tenure and gubernatorial campaign, remains cautious. Her chief of staff, Will Lawrence, highlighted that the proposed tax cuts would exceed the governor’s affordability threshold by approximately $225 million over three years.

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