July 15, 2024

Kansas governor vetoes tax cuts she says would favor ‘super wealthy’

By JOHN HANNA AP Political Writer
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly on Friday fulfilled her pledge to veto a broad package of tax cuts approved by the Republican-led Legislature, saying the income tax changes would overwhelmingly favor the wealthy.
Kelly’s action immediately set up an effort by Republican legislative leaders to override her veto. It appeared they have the two-thirds majority necessary in the House but are falling at least one vote short in the Senate. The bill’s supporters must attempt an override within 30 days or the veto will stand.
The measure would cut income, sales and property taxes by nearly $1.6 billion over the next three years. Kelly opposed the package because it would move Kansas to a single personal income tax rate of 5.25% to replace three rates that now top out at 5.7%.
“This flat tax experiment would overwhelmingly benefit the super wealthy, and I’m not going to put our public schools, roads, and stable economy at risk just to give a break to those at the very top,” Kelly said in a statement. “I am dead set on making sure working Kansans get a tax cut this year.”
Top Republicans have said their plan exempts roughly 310,000 more filers from taxes, on top of the 40,000 poorest ones, by excluding at least the first $20,300 of a married couple’s income from taxes.
House Speaker Dan Hawkins and Senate President Ty Masterson criticized the governor’s veto.
Hawkins said Kelly was “choosing political wins over increasing Kansans’ paychecks,” and Masterson said she “put her radical ideology ahead of the people.”
Republican leaders had married the income tax proposals to a proposal from Kelly to eliminate the state’s 2% sales tax on groceries starting April 1, along with plans that she embraced to exempt all of retirees’ Social Security income from taxes and to lower homeowners’ property taxes.
Masterson and other Republicans said that the mix of cuts in the plan means all taxpayers will benefit, and that they have produced data showing the savings spread across the state.
But the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy reported that even with the changes designed to benefit poorer taxpayers, 70% of the savings in raw dollars will go to the 20% of filers earning more than $143,000 a year.