Statehouse insiders are already thinking ahead to next session and whether the near-certain veto of a tax-cut bill now on the governor’s desk is actually a political gift to lawmakers.

What? No tax cut this year? How can that be good?

Well, it will be. And here’s why.

First, it gives Republicans something to gripe about all summer, and into next winter, when the House and Senate both stand for election, and they’re going to want something to show their constituents that they got for them. We all like legislators who get us something we want, whether it’s legalizing crossing the highway on your ATV…or maybe a tax cut.

And remember that memories are relatively short while you’re in the voting booth or standing at the tall TV trays in the voting place checking off names on the ballot.

That crossing the highway on your ATV (that’s un-licensed All-Terrain Vehicle for us city folks who don’t have one or don’t have room in the garage for one if we even wanted one)? It’s also on the governor’s desk, House Bill 2248: For those of you who want to get T-shirts printed up it is likely to be signed into law. Expect a Statehouse rally by ATV owners? Even for the diehard off-roaders it’s probably not going to cost any legislators seeking reelection a vote.

That’s a gift for all but that handful of legislators who cast a vote for their ATV-riding constituents can pridefully tell their ATV-issue voters (who generally crossed those highways anyway but can do it legally now) that they fought for them. Not much of a fight; 110 House members and 39 Senate members voted for the bill.

Now, that’s nice, but what if the governor, as expected, vetoes the half-price tax cut bill that lawmakers sent her after she vetoed the jumbo tax-cut bill which sent most of that cut to corporations which do business in foreign countries?

Well, it means that those tax-cutting legislators get another chance to vote for tax cuts in an election year when it’s going to be recalled and a major campaign issue while most voters will remember the fight and can congratulate that tax-cut Statehouse crowd at the polling place.

A veto this year on the bill sets up the best campaign issue legislators can wish for next session.

And while a tax cut is political candy, the real fight is again going to be how next year’s state tax-cut effort (or, for conservatives, returning the state tax increases that the federal government’s tax cuts, that they liked, caused) will be targeted.

It can be either an income tax cut for low-income Kansans or a reduction in the state’s sales tax on groceries or a gift for upper middle-income Kansas taxpayers. But probably not a big a major reduction for those corporations with substantial overseas earnings which saw their state tax bills rise while their federal tax bills shrank.

Those corporations don’t vote, their employees do. So, whose name do you put on the tax-cut gift card? Probably voters. It’ll cost candidates some contributions from corporations, but not votes. The political decision next year comes down to whether a candidate’s constituents want food sales taxes or income taxes cut, or some sharing of the revenue shortfall that the state will see from either choice.

Governors don’t generally hold photo-ops when they sign a veto report, but there’s always the chance that the tax-cut champions might want to stand behind her at her desk, rending their garments as she signs the veto message that sets them up for an election year trophy with next session’s tax cut effort.


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

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