Another session in Kansas, another case of Governor Laura Kelly playing defense against taxpayers.
Governor Kelly has made it clear that helping taxpayers and small businesses hit hard by COVID-19 is not in her list of priorities. Instead, Governor Kelly is focused more on growing government.
She has made this clear with her recent veto of House Bill 2054, which would have provided seemingly necessary legislative oversight to her emergency management authority, spending of federal COVID funds, and also would have provided much-needed liability protection for healthcare workers and businesses. If it had passed, it would have required Governor Kelly to get permission from legislators to use her emergency powers and to keep businesses closed. House Bill 2054 also would have given state leaders, rather than Governor Kelly, the say of where the coronavirus relief funds are directed.
According to the Kansas Policy Institute, Governor Kelly has also vetoed property tax reform, House Bill 2702, loans for small businesses House Bill 2619, and a student-focused education bill, House Bill 2510. All 3 of these bills were passed with supermajorities in the House, and almost all earned supermajorities in the Senate as well.
Of particular importance is HB 2702. The property tax reform bill would have waived penalties on interest on property tax payments, extending the deadline by 3 months. This would have provided some relief for businesses forced to shut down or limit their operations due to coronavirus. Though, local governments have collected most of their annual property tax levies.
So why the opposition? HB 2702 included a Truth in Taxation provision to provide additional protections for taxpayers and transparency. Truth in taxation requires notifications to voters when local officials are considering a property tax increase; more significantly, it compensates for increasing tax burdens due to property values increasing.
In Utah, Truth in Taxation has proven very effective in keeping property tax burdens down. Kelly slamming the door on HB 2702 is a huge loss for Kansans, one that could sting for generations if this reform is not revisited.
Now that Kansas legislature’s special session has begun, there will not be any opportunities for the legislature to override these vetoes.
Governor Kelly continues to veto relief for Kansas taxpayers, following her veto of legislation last session that amounted to a significant net tax cut. Meanwhile, she aggressively pushes Medicaid expansion, which would add hundreds of millions of dollars worth of costs for taxpayers.