Tax committee delays discussion of Brownback tax package

0 | Budget

— Senate Taxation Committee Chairman Les Donovan today postponed consideration of Governor Sam Brownback’s tax plan.

Donovan, a Wichita Republican, cited an error in the Senate calendar that indicated today’s committee session would be devoted to further hearings on the bill as the reason for his decision. But he acknowledged that concerns being discussed behind the scenes were also a factor.

“I need to find out before we plow ahead here what we can expect from the committee,” Donovan said. “There are a lot of moving parts to this bill and there are a lot of big issues in the bill that we need to make certain we’re OK with.”

The bill — Senate Bill 78 — calls for additional reductions individual income tax rates. But it also proposes revenue-raising measures to fill what is projected to be a $503 million shortfall in the fiscal year 2014 state budget.

One of those proposals in particular has drawn opposition from Democrats and conservative Republicans. It would keep in place what was supposed to be a temporary increase in the state sales tax. The increase from 5.7 percent to 6.3 percent was passed in 2010 to help the state weather the recession.

Brownback’s plan to make the increase permanent has drawn opposition from conservative groups that are among the biggest supporters of his efforts to gradually eliminate the income tax.

One alternative that some Republicans on the committee are reportedly working on would allow the sales tax rate to return to 5.7 percent on July 1st, but cap some deductions claimed by Kansans who file itemized returns and repeal some sales tax exemptions.

Donovan declined to provide any details but confirmed those were among the alternative ideas being discussed.

“That could well be one of the moving parts,” Donovan said.

Donovan said the committee might be ready to start working the bill on Thursday. But next week was probably more likely, he said.

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