Analysis: Kansas May Revisit Gov. Brownback's Favored Tax Break

May 4, 2015

Republican lawmakers in Kansas seem more ready to reconsider a business tax break that's been a cherished economic policy for Governor Sam Brownback.

Governor Brownback is clear that he wants to preserve an exemption from personal income taxes for 281,000 business owners and 53,000 farmers.

He calls the policy, enacted in 2012 as part of a larger package of income tax cuts, the "small business accelerator."

But Republican allies who championed the same tax break three years ago say the Legislature will consider narrowing its scope as a budget-balancing move.

Several suggested the exemption was broader than they'd intended and raised the same questions Democrats have, about whether the policy is fair to working-class families.

Senate President Susan Wagle said she's been hearing lots of questions from constituents about whether the tax break is fair. She said they wonder why a doctor or insurance agency owner doesn't pay income taxes, but the office secretary does.

The projected shortfall for the fiscal year beginning July 1 is about $800 million dollars.

Legislative researchers say lawmakers already have identified ways to narrow the gap to $422 million.

The governor has proposed slowing down future income tax cuts and raising alcohol and tobacco taxes. He later said he's open to increasing the state's sales tax, and he recently suggested eliminating most income tax deductions.