Governor says Kansas will continue moving to no income tax - KCTV5 News


Governor says Kansas will continue moving to no income tax

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Republican Gov. Sam Brownback promised Thursday night that Kansas will keep moving to eliminate income taxes despite state budget shortfalls that arose after aggressive tax cutting.

In prepared remarks distributed before his annual State of the State address, Brownback also called for legislators to repeal the state's formula for distributing money to public schools and to start work on a "modern" one. He said he will also propose new programs to require more able-bodied recipients of social services to look for work or seek job training to maintain their benefit.

But the conservative governor wasn't more specific about his education or social services initiatives during his speech to a joint session of the GOP-dominated Legislature. And he said only that he would outline proposals Friday for balancing the budget through June 2017 and building additional cash reserves.

The state faces projected budget shortfalls totaling more than $710 million for the current budget and the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Legislators slashed personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback's urging to stimulate the state's economy.

"And we will continue our march to zero income taxes," Brownback said. "There may be some who consider this course too bold. Well, I'm the sort of guy who would have sent Alex Gordon from third base."

The governor's comment referenced Game 7 of the 2014 World Series, in which the Kansas City Royals lost to the San Francisco Giants with outfielder Gordon stranded on third. Fans have speculated for months that Gordon might have been able to score on the previous play had he sprinted home.

Brownback narrowly won a second four-year term in November after Democrats repeatedly argued that the income tax cuts were reckless and have wrecked the state's finances. 

Kansas Democrats are accusing Brownback of misleading voters about the state's financial condition and also are labeling his tax-cutting policies a failure. 

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said in the Democratic response that Brownback should admit "his economic experiment is a failure."

At Brownback's urging, the state cut its top personal income tax rate by 29 percent, exempted the owners of 191,000 businesses altogether and promised future reductions.

"He needs to end his experiment and fix the budget crisis he created. And, he needs to do it now," Hensley said in remarks prepared for delivery after Brownback's speech, without offering specifics.

Hensley said that personal income tax cuts enacted at Brownback's urging in 2012 and 2013 caused state revenues to plummet and that the cuts failed to energize the state's economy.

Brownback said in the address he prepared for delivery that the state is in good condition despite projected budget shortfalls and touted the tax cuts.

Hensley also said in prepared remarks that Democrats oppose shifting the burden for funding schools to local district and diverting funds from highway projects to general government programs.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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