During his State of the State address Tuesday, Gov. Sam Brownback acknowledged that Kansas is facing challenges, but showed no sign that he would be willing to do away with a tax policy that many lawmakers claim helped create the massive budget shortfall the state is experiencing.
Brownback said during the speech that, despite current struggles, Kansas needs to “stay the course.”
District 111 Democratic Rep. Eber Phelps disagrees with that notion, saying Kansas is in need of a new direction.
“He’s either in denial or he’s not getting the same news everyone else is,” Phelps said. “Month after month, our revenue projections have not been where they need to be.”
Phelps, who in 2012 voted against Brownback’s policy that eliminated state income tax for more than 300,000 small businesses, says the problems Kansas is facing are self-inflicted.
In the days leading up to the start of the 2017 legislative session, lawmakers on both sides of the political fence have expressed growing support for doing away with the plan.
A proposal to roll back the tax policy was introduced Monday by Assistant Majority Leader and Vice-Chair of the Taxation Committee, Republican Tom Phillips. The plan, which would call for a full repeal of the LLC exemptions, appears to have a better chance of passing than similar proposals introduced in previous years.
“I think it’s going to be repealed and I think it’s going to get to his desk,” says District 27 Republican Rep. Sean Tarwater. “My opinion is that he’s not going to sign it, but he’s not going to veto it.”
Brownback says Budget Director Shawn Sullivan will present “a structurally balanced budget” Wednesday morning and challenged lawmakers to have a plan that would adjust the 2017 budget on his desk by the end of the month.
Kansas faces a $350 million deficit in the current fiscal year. Through fiscal year 2019, the state is projected to have a shortfall of $1.1. billion.