Over in Brownbackistan, Kansas Republicans are facing a wipeout in November at the state level unless they find a way to plug the state's $290 million hole. Things are so bad for Republicans across the country right now that state lawmakers are considering the unthinkable: eliminating GOP Gov. Sam Brownback's business tax exemptions.
Kansas lawmakers are moving forward with a bill to roll back the state’s income tax exemption for business owners, Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature policy.
The bill would repeal the exemption, which allows the owners of limited liability companies and other pass-through businesses to avoid paying any state income tax, on Jan. 1, 2017.
Rep. Mark Hutton, R-Wichita, said the bill is estimated to bring in about $220 million annually into state coffers.
“It’s a structural change we believe puts us on a stronger path,” Hutton said.
The state wouldn’t begin collecting the tax revenue until the 2018 fiscal year, which will start in July 2017, because of the delayed implementation. That means the bill won’t help the state out of its current $290 million budget hole.
“There’s a lot of people who want that vote,” Hutton said. “They believe it’s at least time to have the conversation.”
Kansas business groups and the Governor are predicting that anyone who votes for the rollback will face obliteration by voters.
“The Governor does not believe taxing our small business job creators is the way to grow the Kansas economy. An important component in attracting and retaining businesses is a stable regulatory and tax policy environment,” Eileen Hawley, Brownback’s spokeswoman, said Friday.
Hutton’s proposal drew strong opposition from business groups upon its unveiling.
“The business community is not the reason we’re in the current situation that we’re in. They only represented 29 percent of the tax relief in 2012 and yet they’re the ones that are being singled out,” said Mike O’Neal, president of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and a former speaker of the Kansas House, who oversaw the 2012 tax reforms.
O’Neal said that 20 percent of respondents to a recent poll of business owners conducted by the chamber said that the tax changes helped them stay in business. “So a vote in favor of this is basically a vote to shut down 20 percent of those people, who but for the tax reforms in ’12 would have gone out of business,” he said.
Once again, Brownback has already been re-elected and doesn't have to face voters anymore. Kansas state lawmakers however do.
Will they go down with Brownback, the most unpopular governor in the country?
We'll find out.