The rubber has officially met the road on the issue that dominated local statehouse elections last year: raising taxes to shore up the budget holes that opened up in the wake of the 2012 tax cuts.
In an initial vote on the House floor Wednesday, every member of the Kansas House of Representatives whose district includes a large portion of northeast Johnson County supported HB 2178, a budget bill that would increase tax revenue in the state by an estimated $590 for the coming fiscal year by closing the LLC loophole and reinstating an income tax bracket for high-earning families and individuals. The bill would also raise the tax rate on income between $30,000 and $60,000 from 4.6 percent to 5.25 percent.
Republican Reps. Stephanie Clayton, Melissa Rooker and Jan Kessinger and Democratic Reps. Nancy Lusk, Brett Parker, Jarrod Ousley and Jerry Stogsdill all voted in favor of the bill, which passed by a margin of 83 to 39.
Gov. Sam Brownback, who has stood by the 2012 tax plan he signed into law even as the state has faced mounting budget deficits, quickly issued a statement criticizing the House for passing the bill Wednesday afternoon:
Today, the House moved forward on the Democratic tax bill that would pummel the pocketbook of middle class families. It drastically hikes taxes retroactively on workers making as little as $15,000 annually. While on the campaign trail many of these representatives pledged to raise taxes on the wealthy, but now they are attempting to tax everyday Kansans. It doesn’t have to be this way. I will continue the fight to keep your income taxes low.
This plan also unfairly raises taxes retroactively on Kansas job creators, sending a negative signal to businesses looking to start or relocate in Kansas. There is a better way. My budget solves the challenges of today, has solutions for tomorrow, and avoids punishing tax increases on middle class workers, families, and job creators.
That prompted a retort from Clayton on Twitter:
— ❄️Stephanie Clayton❄ (@SSCJoCoKs) February 15, 2017
The bill is expected to return to the House floor for a final vote as early as today. If it passes again, it would move to the Senate for consideration.