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Davis sees obstacles to Brownback agenda

By Bill Felber

Pushing his campaign against Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax reform proposals, House Minority Leader Paul Davis predicted Wednesday that the Legislature may reject all three cornerstone aspects of the Brownback initiative.

Davis, a Lawrence Democrat, speculated that opposition is mounting to the ideas of extending a sales tax that was to have expired, eliminating the mortgage deduction on state income tax, and eliminating the property tax deduction.

All three are administration efforts designed to offset the governor’s efforts to reduce and eventually eliminate the state income tax.

“I really sense there is not strong support for any of these right now,” Davis said during a visit to The Mercury. His preference would be to “go back and revisit the income tax cuts,” calling the existing measure “hastily put together.”

The governor’s proposals are founded on the theory that reducing income tax rates will attract new business to the state, which will grow the economy. “I just don’t buy that (theory),” he added.

Davis also expressed skepticism about the strength of House support for a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would clarify the Legislature’s power to define the suitability of funding for K-12 education. He now thinks supporters may not be able to muster the two-thirds support they need to send the proposed amendment, which has already cleared the Senate, to a public vote. Instead, he predicts what he termed “an ugly showdown” between the judicial and legislative branches on the question.

He thinks support for another amendment, which would permit the governor to make appointments to the Appeals Court and Supreme Court benches, also may be waning. That proposal would eliminate the existing system by which the governor appoints one of three nominees from a nine-person panel consisting of five members of the Bar Association and four other persons.

Davis thinks a compromise proposal offered by the KBA may eventually be accepted. That proposal would expand the nominating board to 15 persons, with four appointed by the KBA, five by the governor and six by legislative leaders.

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