Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

House Votes Down Tax Hike ; Hike: 'Time to Fund the Budget and Go Home'

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

House Votes Down Tax Hike ; Hike: 'Time to Fund the Budget and Go Home'

Article excerpt

A bleary-eyed House returned to business Thursday morning after suspending action at midnight when Republicans and Democrats turned against a proposal raising state taxes by more than $400 million to close a revenue gap.

After two hours of straitjacket persuasion applied to representatives, the House leadership threw in the towel and let the bill go down in flames.

The final tally: 20-95.

Gov. Sam Brownback and GOP allies had resumed a hammer-and-anvil strategy to form a coalition of 63 votes on legislation approved by the Senate that would enact the largest tax increase in Kansas history.

The battle is among legislators who seek state government spending cuts, opponents of huge increases in state taxes and members who want to repeal all or part of Brownback's 2012 tax exemption for 330,000 businesses and reductions in individual income tax rates.

Rep. Peggy Mast, R-Emporia, struck the gavel at 8 a.m. still dozens of votes short of the minimum necessary. The chamber continued on a "call" of the House, after an unprecedented eight- hour break. Technically, Thursday morning was still Wednesday night in the House. The call process requires members to remain in their floor seats, unless temporarily excused, as the search goes on for the 10 representatives who have yet to vote.

In reality, the procedural delay created a window of opportunity to rally votes for and against the bill.

"We're still on a call of the House," Mast said. "Doormen keep the doors closed and we will return to business."

The central argument for the tax bill -- on the 112th day of what was to have been a 90-day session -- is that the alternative to the proposed increases in taxes would be implementation of state budget cuts of more than 6 percent.

It is unclear whether the GOP-led executive or legislative branches would take such a step, but the possibility helped move Rep. Scott Schwab, R-Olathe, to announce a decision to switch his vote to "yes. …

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