Senate OK’s historic Kansas tax hike

The Senate joined the House by approving a session-ending bill Friday making adjustments to legislation imposing a state tax increase of $432 million next year that constitutes the largest in Kansas history.

Public begging and private bullying that defined the session’s votes on tax policy prompted adoption by the bare minimum — 21 votes in the Senate, 63 in the House — of  legislation  endorsed by Gov. Sam Brownback and designed to respond to a projected $400 million deficit in the fiscal year starting July 1.

The House came up with a slightly different mix of tax additions than was passed Sunday by the Senate, which required the upper chamber to vote on a bill matching the House action. That bill was in peril on Friday afternoon until Sen. Rob Olson, R-Olathe, changed his vote to “yes” and provided the ending margin.

In recent days, heavy political muscle was applied to GOP lawmakers to vote for a tax increase or face a primary election opponent in August 2016.  The Brownback administration also triggered a public backlash by declaring failure to raise taxes could result in sweeping budget reductions in Kansas higher education.

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