state budget

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Members of the Kansas House took a step Wednesday towards repealing parts of the 2012 tax cuts championed by Gov. Sam Brownback. The governor quickly responded, saying he would not sign the bill into law.

The House gave preliminary approval to the tax increase with a vote of 83 to 39, one vote shy of the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto from the governor.

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Members of the Kansas House are scheduled to debate a tax plan Wednesday that would raise income tax rates and repeal an income tax exemption for more than 300,000 business owners. It’s the first tax bill that will be debated by one of the full chambers this year.

Kansas lawmakers are looking at ways to erase budget deficits that total around $1 billion by the middle of 2019. They started cutting taxes several years ago and the bill they’ll debate would undo some of the cuts.

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The Kansas Senate is setting itself up for a wide-ranging floor debate this week on tax plans to end a series of annual budget deficits by raising more revenue.

Senate Vice President Jeff Longbine said the inability to privately rally 21 votes for a plan means it’s time to get ideas out in the open and see what rises to the top.

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A Kansas House committee has advanced a spending bill that would balance the budget for the current fiscal year without making cuts to education. The House Appropriations Committee voted for a proposal similar to Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan, which would dissolve a state investment fund to close a more than $300 million budget gap.

Republican committee chairman Troy Waymaster calls it “the best of the bad options.” He says the alternative is cutting state services and education, which would be hard to absorb.

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Two-thirds of states across the country -- including Kansas -- are facing budget challenges.

Several states, including Arizona, Minnesota, Utah and New Jersey, are expected to come out ahead financially for the current fiscal year and the upcoming one beginning July 1. But others are projected to have budget shortfalls reaching hundreds of millions -- and in some cases, billions -- of dollars.

North Dakota has a budget hole of about $1.4 billion over the next two years. Oklahoma is expected to fall short by close to $870 million in the upcoming fiscal year.

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Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is giving few hints regarding his plan for fixing the Kansas budget shortfall. The state faces a $350 million deficit in the current fiscal year and an additional budget gap next year.

The governor will unveil his Kansas spending plan in January. Brownback told reporters at an event Tuesday that he isn’t working with lawmakers on crafting the proposal, and he wouldn’t give any specifics about what he’s considering.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Legislative researchers have found that the bond debt in Kansas has more than tripled since the late 1990s.

A chart they created shows the debt level stands at more than $5 billion for the 2017 fiscal year, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. From fiscal year 1997 to 2017, the total amount of bond debt increased by 336.4 percent, or $3.8 billion, according to the chart.

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The Wichita chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists is hosting a talk Tuesday night about the Kansas budget and the state’s tax policy.

The event will feature Annie McKay, executive director of the Kansas Center for Economic Growth and the incoming president and CEO of Kansas Action for Children. KCEG describes itself as nonpartisan and was created in 2013 to educate Kansans about the state’s economic policies.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File photo

Kansas lawmakers will return to the Statehouse this week and they'll be looking for ways to erase a budget deficit. Part of that discussion could focus on business taxes. As KPR's Stephen Koranda reports, some legislators say it's time to reconsider a tax policy that lets thousands of business owners pay no state income tax.

Republican Sen. Jim Denning is one of the Kansas lawmakers saying the business tax exemption needs to be rolled back or modified. Denning says he’s tired of budget solutions he sees as one-time fixes.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Governor Brownback’s office pitched three budget-balancing options to Kansas lawmakers this week, but it doesn’t look like legislative leaders are planning to rubber stamp any of the proposals. 

The chair of the Senate’s budget-writing committee, Republican Ty Masterson, says he doesn’t believe any of the three will be approved by lawmakers.

“These are just three options the governor produced. We’re going to look at them, evaluate them. I’m sure none of the three will come out exactly as he’s intended them. Could be a combination of the three,” Masterson says.

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