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Kansas special legislative session on tax cuts set to begin in June


TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced Wednesday that she will call a special legislative session on tax cuts beginning June 18.

The move comes after the Democratic governor vetoed three Republican plans to cut taxes this year, setting up a high-stakes election-year tussle with the GOP-controlled Kansas Legislature.

“I am committed to working with the Legislature to deliver responsible, sustainable tax cuts for all Kansans,” Kelly said in a statement. “A special session provides the opportunity for bipartisan collaboration on comprehensive tax relief that does not threaten Kansas’ solid fiscal foundation. By working together, we can swiftly come to a compromise to put more money back into Kansans’ pockets.”

Lawmakers this month sent Kelly a proposal to cut income, sales and property taxes by a total of $1.45 billion or more over three years. She vetoed the measure after the Legislature adjourned, blocking lawmakers from attempting to override her.

Kelly and Republican leaders have agreed on eliminating state income taxes on retirees’ Social Security benefits, which kick in when they earn $75,000 a year. They also agree on reducing a state property tax for schools and eliminating the state’s already set-to-expire 2% sales tax on groceries six months early, on July 1.

But almost half of the cuts in the latest bill were tied to changes in the personal income tax. The state’s highest tax rate would have been 5.57%, instead of the current 5.7%.

GOP leaders have grown increasingly frustrated as they’ve made what they see as major concessions, including giving up on moving Kansas from three personal income tax rates to one.

All 40 Senate seats and 125 House seats are on the ballot in this year’s elections, and Democrats hope to break the Republican supermajorities in both chambers. Both parties believe voters will be upset if there is no broad tax relief after surplus funds piled up in the state’s coffers.