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Kansas Gov. Kelly misses self-imposed deadline to set special session date on tax cuts

Jonathan Shorman, The Kansas City Star on

Published in News & Features

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly hasn’t set the start date for a special legislative session on tax cuts, despite previously saying she would announce the date last week.

When the Democratic governor vetoed the latest tax cuts proposal on May 16, she said in a statement provided by her office that she would announce the session date “next week.” The session is widely expected to begin in June.

But the Memorial Day weekend came and went without an announcement. On Tuesday, the governor’s office signaled the delay centers on the ability of lawmakers to attend the session.

“Although Governor Kelly anticipated announcing the date of a special legislative session last week, she continues to have ongoing conversations with legislative leaders about the availability of their caucuses in order to determine the best date. Governor Kelly plans to announce the date of a special session soon,” Kelly spokesperson Grace Hoge said in a statement.

When setting the special session date, Kelly and top lawmakers must consider whether they can maintain quorums of the House and Senate to conduct business. A majority of members of both chambers constitute a quorum.

Kelly has suggested the session could last as little as a day if she reaches an agreement with lawmakers. But the special session, coming ahead of elections this fall, could disrupt lawmakers’ campaigning if it drags on.


Kelly previously vetoed a plan that would have cost between $462 million and $472 million a year after a first-year cost of $641 million. Kelly has called for the total cost of tax cuts not to exceed roughly $425 million a year, a limit her aides say includes all tax changes passed by the Legislature, not just this bill.

Top Republican lawmakers have said Kansas can afford $500 million a year. They sharply criticized Kelly’s decision to call a special session instead of signing the latest tax bill. GOP leaders have emphasized that the bill enjoyed the support of most Democratic lawmakers.

The vetoed plan would have set the top rate for married couples filing jointly at 5.57% and the bottom rate at 5.2%, with $46,000 serving as the dividing line between the two rates. All other taxpayers would be taxed at 5.15% in the bottom bracket and 5.55% in the top bracket, with $23,000 dividing the two brackets.

Where to set the income tax brackets – and at what rates – is likely to be at the center of discussions between Kelly and lawmakers because those parameters drive the overall cost of the package.

Less controversial tax changes are expected to remain in whatever proposal is put forward. Those changes include accelerating the elimination of the state sales tax on food to July 1, in addition to ending taxes on Social Security income.

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