Kansas Lawmakers Rush to Consider Flat Tax, DEI Litigation and Disability Services Before Spring Break

The Kansas Legislature is scrambling to address tax cuts, funding for disability services and immigration issues before its annual three-week spring break that begins next week. Most of the bills that don't pass won't be considered when lawmakers return April 29 for a short wrap-up session.

Republicans disagree on how to cut income taxes, as well as how to fund other big-ticket items such as disability rights. All of this is coming to a head as lawmakers approach their annual “Drop Dead Day,” a deadline to pass a law or let it disappear.

Lawmakers are expected to finalize a proposed $25 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.


Here's a look at some of the key questions under consideration this week:

The GOP hesitates on the “flat tax”

The Legislature is on its second attempt this year to pass income, sales and property tax cuts after Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed a Republican Party package in January because It included a single-rate, or “flat,” income tax, which she said favored the “super rich.” With the help of several GOP defectors, Democrats narrowly prevented the governor's veto from being overridden in the House.

State tax revenue has fallen short in recent months, but Kansas is still on track to finish June 2025 with more than $4 billion in surplus funds. Lawmakers are poised to approve tax cuts worth $500 million to $600 million a year, while the plan Kelly outlined in January would amount to about $300 million a year.

Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson briefly discusses tax issues with Majority Leader Larry Alley

Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson, right, briefly discusses tax issues as Majority Leader Larry Alley, left, looks on March 27, 2024, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kansas. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

The House and Senate both want to exempt retirees' Social Security benefits from income taxes, reduce state property taxes for public schools, and adjust standard income tax deductions for physical persons.

The main difference is the income tax rates offered.

A Senate plan would set a single rate of 5.7% — the highest rate currently — and drop it over five years to 5.45%.

In the House, GOP leaders concluded it was unlikely a flat-rate plan could overcome another Kelly veto. Instead, they want to eliminate the lowest tax bracket and set the highest rate at 5.65%.

Kelly has not said publicly whether she would accept a two-price plan.

With Senate Republicans appearing to have a two-thirds majority in favor of their plan, the House approved its version this week by a 123-0 vote. The final tax plan will be drafted by three Senate negotiators and three Senate negotiators. bedroom.


Immigration and diversity issues are both part of this year's budget negotiations in Kansas.

Republican senators added a provision to their spending plan that would support Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's battle with the Biden administration over border security. The measure provides $15.7 million for a proposed border mission before July and directs Kelly to deploy Kansas National Guard resources to assist Texas.

Asked about that provision last month, Kelly said the state constitution makes her commander in chief of the Guard, “And I make those decisions.”

Another provision in the Senate budget proposal would withhold $35.7 million from state universities until top administrators go before Kelly and legislative leaders and drop some diversity, equity initiatives and inclusion. Lawmakers want schools to declare that they will not require prospective students or job applicants to commit to DEI principles or ask them to discuss their experiences with DEI programs.

Last year, Kelly vetoed two anti-DEI budget provisions. This would have prevented public universities from using DEI principles in recruiting. The other would have prohibited the state board that licenses mental health professionals from requiring or incentivizing them to complete training on diversity or anti-racism theories.


Some Kansas families wait 10 years to receive home or community-based services for their children with physical or developmental disabilities. Lawmakers are considering solutions.

While 15,000 Kansans with disabilities have access to services such as day programs, employment assistance or home care, more than 7,600 are on waiting lists. A total of 23 people died in 2022 and 2023 while waiting for services, according to the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services.

Kelly is now proposing to spend $23 million to provide services to 250 people with physical disabilities and 250 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are now on waiting lists. The House proposal would double that amount.

Some House Democrats tried, unsuccessfully, to spend enough to serve an additional 1,000 people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Still, some Republicans question whether service providers can handle such an increased workload.


“It's disingenuous to tell them they're going to get help when we can't even find the workers to provide the services they need,” said House Health Committee Chairwoman Brenda Landwehr, a Republican from Wichita, at a recent meeting.

But disability rights advocates question whether 500 additional spots for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities would even reduce their waiting list, given that hundreds more people have been added to it in each of the last two years.

Rocky Nichols, executive director of the Disability Rights Center of Kansas, says providers will build capacity if the state commits more money.


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