Governor Brownback to veto income tax hike meant to fix Kansas budget

TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says he will veto a bipartisan bill that would roll back personal income tax cuts he's championed to help balance the state budget.

The conservative Republican governor announced his planned action Tuesday, four days after the GOP-controlled Legislature approved the measure. The bill's tax increases would raise more than $1 billion over two years starting in July.

Brownback has criticized the measure as harmful to middle-class families and small business owners. Supporters say it's necessary to help close projected budget shortfalls totaling nearly $1.1 billion through June 2019.

"There is a better way," Brownback said. "Your income taxes do not need to go up, they do not need to go up retroactively. That’s what this bill does. It starts the income tax increase on you, on everyone in the state of Kansas, on the first of this year."

Kansas has struggled to balance the budget since GOP lawmakers slashed personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback's urging.

When the legislature passed this bill, they didn’t have the two thirds majority to override the veto.

"I think there will be the opportunity to override the veto," Senator David Haley said. "It's going to be up to the Republican leadership of the Senate to reverse their vote."

The bill would increase income tax rates and end an exemption for farmers and business owners.