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Kansas Senate proposes tax hikes in process to balance budget, avoid cutting from state programs

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Kansas lawmakers will soon debate a new proposal that includes a hefty hike to what you already pay in income taxes in an effort to balance the budget.

The bill in effect would repeal the tax cuts lawmakers enacted five years ago. But by restoring the top tax bracket, many Kansas residents would end up paying hundreds of dollars more each year in income taxes.

This proposal would affect any individual making more than $35,000 a year and any married couple making more than $70,000 a year. Someone with an annual salary of $35,000 would pay an extra $542 a year while a married couple bringing in $70,000 would pay an extra $1085 per year.

Besides raising personal income taxes, the proposal would also eliminate the tax exemption for more than 330,000 farmers and business owners.

If passed, the proposal is expected to raise around $1.2 billion in the next two years and allow lawmakers to balance the budget without cutting any more from state programs. It would also save schools from facing any additional cuts.

Governor Brownback, though, does not support this plan. He wants lawmakers to instead raise sales taxes on tobacco and alcohol.

Debate on these proposals will begin Thursday, and Senate leaders are trying to secure enough votes to override any Governor veto.

The House is working on a similar tax plan that would also raise income taxes but not by quite as much as the Senate’s plan.

Anything passed will not erase this year’s $340-million deficit. Lawmakers are considering a one-time withdrawal from an investment fund to take care of that.