NEJC reps all vote against controversial budget bill that passed after 4 a.m.

Kansas-Statehouse

Northeast Johnson County House Reps. Barbara Bollier, Stephanie Clayton, Melissa Rooker and Jarrod Ousley were among the 45 dissenting members on the vote that passed HB2109 on the narrowest of margins early Thursday morning.

The budget bill — which was very similar to the bill easily defeated the day before — will raise the state sales tax from 6.15 percent to 6.5 percent. Taxes on cigarettes will increase $.50 a pack.

The state income tax for individuals will remain at rates of 2.7 and 4.6 percent through 2018, and includes a provision exempting as many as 380,000 of the state’s poorest residents from all income taxes. The bill balances the budget assuming that Gov. Sam Brownback makes $50 million in spending cuts somewhere — though the bill doesn’t identify the targets for the cuts.

After the defeat of the bill during the House’s vote Wednesday morning, we asked the area representatives for the thinking behind their votes. (We haven’t had time to get fresh comment from them about the passage of the bill Wednesday, but this should give you a sense of how they were thinking about the bill).

Barbara Bollier
Barbara Bollier

Barbara Bollier: “The Governor’s failed tax policy from 2012 continues to wreak havoc on the State of Kansas. Until we have a move back to a balanced approach to tax policy (the three-legged stool model) I will not support attempts to put a band aid on the wound…The people continue to ask for a move back to some income tax and ending the “march to zero,” and I will stand firm and fight for their interests.”

Melissa Rooker: “Over 1,000 days ago the 2012 tax plan was projected to leave the state with a gaping hole in its budget, nearly 200 days ago the November consensus revenue estimates confirmed the fiscal nightmare was real, and yet the governor and leadership in the House and Senate chose to wait until the 11th hour to take up legislation to deal with the serious tax and budget issues the state now faces.

Rep. Melissa Rooker
Rep. Melissa Rooker
HB 2109 relies on sales tax increases, reduces itemized deductions and adopts a number of onerous policy changes with serious implications for taxpayers but does not address the actual root of the problems with the 2012 and 2013 tax plans. It continues the scheduled ‘March to Zero’ income tax rate cuts that have harmed state revenue, and will only make our fiscal problems worse as rates ratchet down regardless of the economic indicators. Under this plan, 330,000 businesses will continue to pay zero income tax while their employees will continue to foot the bill for the quality-of-life services like schools, roads, and public safety that make Kansas a great place to live and do business. I have fought hard this session for real revenue reform that will address these problems without choosing winners and losers, and will continue to stand up for policies that make sense for all Kansans. I voted NO on HB 2109.”

rep_ousley_jarrod_1
Rep. Jarrod Ousley

Jarrod Ousley: “I voted against the proposed tax plan in HB 2109, as it unfairly burdens working families and the middle class with the tax responsibilities of the business’ income exempted in 2012. Further, the proposed tax policy didn’t address the depth of the problem caused by the exemptions. We are $800 million short, and $400 million has been swept from other departments in one time transfers. That money will not be available during the next budgeting process, and so we will find ourselves facing another tax increase vote. Further, the bill contained policy harmful to public education, the expansion of the corporate tax credit scholarships to benefit private schools. We need to fairly and responsibly fix our tax policy so that everyone is contributing their share.”