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Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly will call a special session to pass more modest tax relief

A woman wearing a light blue jacket gestures while talking at a microphone inside a radio studio.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly talks about the 2023 legislative session on KCUR's Up To Date on June 6, 2023.

Kelly says she will veto the bipartisan tax bill lawmakers passed in the last hours of the 2024 legislative session. A special session to pass tax relief less impactful on future state budgets will be called, but a timeline is not yet confirmed.

Kansans won't yet see tax relief coming out of Topeka.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly reiterated she would not sign the $2.3 billion bipartisan tax bill passed in the last hours of the state's 2024 legislative session. Instead, she'll call for a special legislative session to pass tax relief, though dates are not yet confirmed.

Kelly has already vetoed two tax bills she called unsustainable. The governor told KCUR's Up To Date that the most recent tax measure sent to her desk was too expensive.

"There is no way in the world that I'm going to put my signature on a bill that I think will take us back to those days of four-day school weeks, crumbling roads and bridges, a foster care system that was totally broken," she said. "I just, I can't do that."

The bill would have eliminated state’s 2% sales tax on groceries on July 1, rather than on Jan. 1, 2025. It would repeal the state income tax on Social Security benefits.

The bill lower the state’s top income tax rate from 5.7% to 5.57%, and cut the lower tax rate from 5.25% to 5.2%. It would also increase property tax exemptions tied to the state's school finance levy.

Kelly said the tax reduction measures would have cost more than $500 million annually, and cause budget problems for the state.

“I have made it very clear from the get-go that I will veto any bill that came to me that would put Kansas in financial jeopardy. The bill the Legislature passed would do exactly that,” Kelly said. "There is absolutely no way that I would sign it. I’ll call the Legislature back into a special session to pass a good tax cut bill.”

Kansas lawmakers can’t do certain campaign activities while in session, so they might be eager to pass a bill and get back on the campaign trail ahead of November’s elections.

Kelly’s veto is expected by next Friday.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
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