Kansas Political Columnist Martin Hawver

Hawver: Veto of the Tax Cut

Governor Laura Kelly vetoed that massive tax cut bill that she didn’t like and says the state can’t afford; it doesn’t appear that action, first veto of her term, will be overridden.


Martin Hawver, Columnist
Martin Hawver

Oh, there’s talk about it, but practically, the votes don’t appear to be there for the override. And leaders in the House and Senate who supported the bill and would like the override aren’t interested in seeing a failed veto attempt diminish their power or perceived power, so don’t look for that override try.


Let’s see how a veto vote works. Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, leader of the Senate GOP with enough Republicans but not votes to override, won’t get it done. House Speaker Ron Ryckman, R-Olathe, is similarly situated. Plenty of Republicans, just not enough votes. Why try when it’s likely to fail, and both Wagle and Ryckman will hear from constituents “…and you still couldn’t get Kelly overridden?” That talk gets old the first couple dozen times you hear it.

But…there are some smaller tax cuts, none related to the biggest portion of that three-year $230 million cut for corporations doing overseas business, that are in the air and low-buck enough that they wouldn’t wreck Kelly’s first budget.

Watch for property tax “relief.”

Nice thing about it for the Legislature is that whatever happens to property tax cuts doesn’t happen here…in the Statehouse and the State General Fund, but rather with local units of government. It’s called “free” tax cuts, paid for by local units of government which live on property taxes, but with legislators’ names on the bill.

Does it get any better than that? Tax cuts, no cost, and all the glory that legislative candidates can make fit on their reelection palm cards.

The Senate, which tends to lead this year in major legislation, has passed its major property tax cut bill this year and sent it to the House.

It puts a freeze on property taxes at the current level—if you’re 65 or older, or a veteran with a 50 percent disability.

Oh, and if your household income (all who live there) is less than $50,000 a year, and the house is valued at less than $350,000, whether it’s paid off or not.

That means if you qualify for the program, you get to go to the picnics and get to hear your neighbors gripe about property tax increases, while you just reach for another beer or handful of chips.

Oh, there are some other tax cuts floating around, but with the biggie now off the table, nobody’s come up with a sales tax exemption for, say, assault rifles or holsters for those concealed-carry fans.

Key, of course, is to find a group whose taxes can be cut slightly but memorably, at relatively low cost. And while Kelly is firm about not cutting taxes (or, rather, receipts) enough to damage the budget, there are probably some little measures out there…

Already, there’s been a bill that has gone nowhere to exempt from state income tax Social Security payments, which is expected to cost somewhere north of $70 million in lost revenues, but revenues from folks who vote and from folks who remember who saved them money.

Possible? Probably not, it’s a narrowly focused political tax cut, but every retiree will remember it, and probably their children will get to hear about it at every gathering.

The tax cut issue isn’t over, though it doesn’t look good for those multinational corporations. And it’s going to have to be relatively low cost.

Let’s see where this goes next…


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 www.hawvernews.com