Kansas Governor Laura Kelly (public domain, governor.kansas.gov)

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly (D) callously vetoed a bipartisan tax relief package on Wednesday that included income, property, and business tax cuts totaling just $460 million annually. With the state on track to have nearly $5 billion of over-collected tax dollars in the treasury by the end of the summer, Gov. Kelly’s veto tells struggling Kansas families to go pound sand.

“The commonsense tax cuts in HB 2036 would make Kansas more competitive with its neighbors, energize the state’s economy by attracting new people and investment dollars, and put money back into the pocketbooks of the families who earned it. But Governor Kelly is no friend to the Kansas taxpayer,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Today’s veto reveals Kelly’s true colors: that she would rather let billions of taxpayer dollars sit around collecting dust than give one penny of it back to the hardworking people of Kansas.”

HB 2036 would move Kansas from three income tax brackets to two, make large cuts to both rates, quadruple the standard deduction, lower the statewide property tax rate, and cut taxes for every Kansan. Last week’s revenue forecasts depict a stable budget outlook with even higher surplus revenue than initially expected. In light of that positive fiscal trajectory, the $460 million bill is sustainable and in fact leaves plenty of room for further efforts to continue lowering and streamlining Kansas’s income tax code.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time Gov. Kelly denied tax relief to the people of Kansas. In fact, it’s the sixth such veto she has issued in as many years. Since taking office in 2018, Kelly has vetoed 75 separate tax cuts, as Senate President Ty Masterson pointed out. The governor repeatedly slams the door shut on any bill, big or small, that would return a portion of Kansas’s strong budget surplus to taxpayers. Thanks to Gov. Kelly stonewalling pro-growth tax reform, Kansas remains the only state with a Republican-controlled legislature that has failed to enact any marginal income tax rate cuts since 2020.

The latest of Gov. Kelly’s vetoes is a slap in the face to dozens of her fellow Democrats, who unanimously supported this common-sense tax cut in the House. But it’s an even bigger slap in the face to the hundreds of thousands of families and businesses in Kansas who are growing increasingly desperate for some semblance of tax relief.

There is no reason to allow Gov. Kelly’s veto to stand. Republicans in the Kansas House and Senate, as well as the many Democrats who supported the bill earlier this month, should come together at the first opportunity to override Gov. Kelly’s veto and finally provide to the people of Kansas the tax relief they deserve.