Defying the governor and GOP leaders, Kansas lawmakers abandon a tax cut package (Part-2).

In January, Kelly vetoed a single-rate income tax plan, and Republicans couldn't get two-thirds majorities in both chambers.  

Republican leaders wavered on a single-rate income tax in recent weeks as they were less willing to risk no cuts this year. All 40 state Senate seats and 125 House seats are up for grabs this year.  

In a brief debate, House Speaker Dan Hawkins warned his colleagues that rejecting the bill would result in headlines like “House scuttles tax relief.” “There isn’t a single one of us who wants to scuttle tax relief,” Wichita Republican Hawkins said.  

They met privately before the vote at the Kansas Contractors Association office near the Statehouse. Republican Rep. Patrick Penn of Wichita was encouraging colleagues to overcome their doubts when an Associated Press reporter arrived. GOP leaders evicted the reporter.

After Owens ended his last argument against the idea, some Republicans said quietly, “Here, here,” and some clapped and tapped their desks when the plan failed. The governor met with House Democrats Thursday morning to sell the deal, but irritation with Kelly's interference was evident. She called it a Big Win for Democrats.  

“I can guarantee that the other side has gone as far as — a lot farther than — they wanted to go,” Kelly said. “We should embrace and take credit for this.”  

In addition to modifying the state's highest income tax rate, the plan would have removed state income taxes on seniors' Social Security benefits, which begin at $75,000. It would have increased basic personal income tax deductions, enhanced a child care tax credit, decreased property taxes for public schools, and repealed a 2% grocery sales tax six months early, on July 1.

Property taxes were low. The median property value in Kansas is $210,000, saving homeowners $140 annually. Home values can climb sufficiently in a year to offset the cut. “This, in my mind, is half a Band-Aid when the sore is still festering,” said lone Senate “no” vote, northeastern Kansas Democrat state Sen. Tom Holland.  

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