TOPEKA, Kan. — Governor Laura Kelly has not given up on the idea of putting money back in the hands of Kansas taxpayers.
On Thursday, she announced an additional $460 million through a Governor’s Budget Amendment (GBA) to pay a one-time $250 tax rebate for all Kansans who filed a 2020 tax return last year. Married Kansans who filed jointly will be eligible for a $500 direct payment.
The governor’s office said more than 1.2 million Kansans would be eligible for the rebate.
“Our strong economic growth would not be possible without the hard work of Kansas taxpayers, and I want to return this money to the people who earned it,” Kelly said in a statement. “Especially right now, when we are all experiencing the impact of rising costs at the pump and the grocery store, the state can make an immediate and direct impact to help Kansas families pay their bills and save for the future.”
Last December, she called for the rebate, but the House and Senate rejected funding it.
Republican Senate President Ty Masterson was at the state capitol Thursday afternoon.
“There was no interest in the main session, and there won’t be any interest in the veto session either,” he said when reacting to the governor’s second push for the tax rebate. “I would push back that just cutting a check in an election year is something that Republicans would normally support. We want structural changes.”
However, Kelly said other states have passed similar bipartisan plans, including Missouri.
She said the proposal would be paid for with Kansas’ current budget surplus. A new fiscal forecast predicts Kansas will collect $760 million more in taxes due to inflation.
Masterson also said he believes the state’s in the same financial situation it was in in 2008.
“We’re on the same cliff a couple layers up,” Masterson said comparing now to 2008. “We have all this monopoly money in the system, so there’s a sense that there’s all this money. You can cut every tax and spend every dime, but the reality is, that’s a ‘pig in the python,’ and things will change. You go back and look at ’08 and ’09, we had projections for money forever, and then by the end of 2008, we were losing a billion dollars in the general fund, so we have to be very careful, so in doing that, I think the timing is wrong.”
Kelly wants to eliminate the state’s 6.5% sales tax on groceries, while Republican lawmakers are proposing to phase it out over three years.