Senators vote down tax plan

By The Mercury

TOPEKA — An altered version of Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax-cutting proposal failed in the Senate by a 20-20 vote Wednesday morning. The outcome puts Brownback’s plan to overhaul the individual income tax code in jeopardy for this legislative session.

The Manhattan area Senate delegation split on the measure, with Dennis Pyle, a Hiawatha Republican, and Mark Taddiken, a Clifton Republican, voting in support of the proposal. Sen. Roger Reitz, a Manhattan Republican, was one of eight Republicans who joined all 12 Democrats in opposing the tax cut.

Prior to rejecting the measure, senators had already agreed to remove Brownback’s proposals to continue a temporary one-cent sales tax increase that started in 2010, and to eliminate many tax credits and deductions such as mortgage interest and charitable contributions.

The changes altered the cost of the plan. Brownback’s plan was estimated to cost $90 million while projections for this version went as high as $800 million.

Brownback’s plan would eventually eliminate personal income tax and provide additional tax exemptions for small businesses.

The Senate also passed an act that would increase school funding for the next two school years.

The Senate substitute for House Bill 2200 passed 31-9 with Reitz voting yea and Pyle and Taddiken voting nay.

Under the bill, the base state aid per pupil (BSAPP) would increase from the current $3,780 BSAPP to $3,854 for the 2012-13 school year and $3,928 for the 2013-14 school year.

The bill would also allow local school boards to increase the local option budget authority from the current 30 percent maximum to 32 percent in 2012-13 and 33 percent in 2013-14.

Senators also approved, 38-2, a separate bill to give cities and counties $180 million over four years and directing them to use it to keep local property taxes in check. Senate leaders from both parties have said their constituents are far more concerned about high property taxes than income taxes. All three area senators voted with the majority.

Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan, a former state senator, said the governor didn’t tackle property tax relief because they are levied mostly by cities, counties and local school districts, and the state’s ability to rein in levies is limited.

“We don’t discount that property taxes need to be dealt with,” he said.

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