Martin Hawver

Hawver: Showdown is in Full Swing

It’s still a showdown, the GOP led Legislature, and Democrat Gov. Laura Kelly, and they’re holding their cards near their chests and looking at each other’s eyes to see who blinks first.

Kansas Political Columnist Martin Hawver
Kansas Political Columnist Martin Hawver

Those $88-a-day legislators (plus per diem, of course) are still on their Turnaround Daybreak, presumably exhausted from debating many of the bills in each chamber and sending them across the rotunda to the other chamber. And they’ve sent just one bill to Kelly so far. Best deal for those legislators is that they get paid by the day—not on commission—or we’d see them at street corners with signs seeking lunch money.

That single bill they’ve sent to Kelly is the $115 million-repayment of money borrowed from the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System, and Kelly isn’t saying whether she’ll sign or veto it, and it would be out of character for her to just let it become law without her signature.

The bills floating around? Well, they’re still floating at what is theoretically, or popularly, called the “halfway point” of the session. That’s the tax cut bill and the K-12 bill, which at least the Senate Education Committee hasn’t finished up yet and isn’t likely to move to floor debate this week.

The tax cuts? Kelly doesn’t think that the state has enough information on just what those federal cuts are going to do to Kansas revenues. She for the first time last week said out loud that she might not sign a tax cut bill this year.

For some number of Republicans—and mostly party leadership—those tax cuts are politically vital.

The leadership refers to making those federal tax cuts trickle down to Kansans vital. And cutting Kansas taxes now? Well, Republicans call not cutting Kansas income taxes a tax hike, because the less you pay to Washington, the more money is available for taxing by Kansas.

There are also some relatively clever little political games within the tax debate, like a one-cent reduction in Kansas sales tax on groceries, from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent.  Nobody doesn’t want to pay less sales tax. And no legislator doesn’t want to vote to cut taxes on nearly everything—and especially food.

While you read a lot about “helping the poor” with that food sales tax cut, the income tax part of the bill helps corporations and the upper-middle and upper-upper income Kansans who probably haven’t eaten bologna on white bread for years…

It might be interesting, though, to see how that Senate-passed, House committee-amended bill does in full House debate.


By Martin Hawver

Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report—to learn more about this nonpartisan statewide political news service, visit the website at