Friday, June 9, 2017

Kansas Legislature Overrides Brownback Veto: Raises Taxes, Passes New School Funding Formula | janresseger

Kansas Legislature Overrides Brownback Veto: Raises Taxes, Passes New School Funding Formula | janresseger:

Kansas Legislature Overrides Brownback Veto: Raises Taxes, Passes New School Funding Formula

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Something stunning happened on Tuesday night in Topeka.  John Hanna of the Associated Press reports: “Kansas legislators Tuesday night repudiated the tax-cutting experiment that brought Gov. Sam Brownback national attention, with even fellow Republicans voting to override his veto of a plan reversing many of the income tax reductions he’s championed…. The state will increase its personal income tax rates and end an exemption for more than 330,000 farmers and business owners. Legislators expect the changes to raise $1.2 billion in new revenue over two years to close projected budget shortfalls totaling $889 million through June 2019…. Under the new tax laws, Kansas will return to having a third income tax rate for its wealthiest filers, something cuts in 2012 eliminated. The top rate will be 5.7 percent, as opposed to 4.6 percent now.”
Even before passing the tax hikes—in the wee hours of Tuesday morning—the Kansas legislature also addressed the school funding crisis, passing a new and more equitable funding distribution formula, and increasing revenue dedicated for all-day Kindergarten.  Legislators hope that the new plan, which will increase public school spending by $293 million over two years will be acceptable to the state’s supreme court that, in March, again found the system unconstitutional and demanded that the legislature correct school funding by June 30 or shut down the public schools. There is some worry that even the new plan won’t be enough: “The justices did not say exactly how much funding must increase when they set a June 30 deadline for lawmakers to pass a new school finance law.  But attorneys for four school districts that sued the state in 2010 have said the increase needs to be much larger, and Democrats have argued that the minimum is phasing in a $400 million increase over two years.”  We’ll have to watch for the  Supreme Court’s response.
There is also something else in the school funding plan that is objectionable to a number of legislators—an expansion of the state’s tuition tax credit voucher program.  John Hanna explains: “Democrats and many GOP moderates also object to a proposal in the school funding plan that would expand a program giving income tax credits to corporations that donate money to private-school scholarships for students in poorly performing public schools. GOP conservatives created the program in 2014, and this year’s proposal would allow individuals and partnerships to claim the tax credit as well.”
The Washington Post‘s Max Ehrenfreund, analyzing the Kansas legislature’s repudiation of Brownback’s stubborn dedication to tax-slashing, reminds readers that voters in last Kansas Legislature Overrides Brownback Veto: Raises Taxes, Passes New School Funding Formula | janresseger:
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