- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 3, 2017

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Thin support for a bill increasing income taxes led Kansas House leaders to cancel debates Wednesday and go back to the drawing board on a plan to close state budget shortfalls while also boosting spending on public schools.

House and Senate tax negotiators planned to meet Thursday to decide on another proposal.

House leaders tried to hold debates Wednesday afternoon and evening on a bill that would increase income taxes by more than $1 billion through June 2019. The bill would create a third tax bracket, increase income tax rates on all filers and repeal an income tax exemption for small business owners championed by GOP Gov. Sam Brownback.

House Majority Leader Don Hineman said leaders didn’t want to hold a vote when they knew the bill would get voted down.

“It’s still available as a possibility,” said Hineman, a Dighton Republican. “We’re just kind of putting it on the shelf for today.”

House Taxation Committee Chairman Rep. Steven Johnson, an Assaria Republican, said some lawmakers objected to the proposal because they thought it would raise too much money while others thought it wouldn’t raise enough.

Lawmakers are working to close projected budget shortfalls totaling $887 million through June 2019. But they also must respond to a Kansas Supreme Court ruling in March that the state isn’t giving schools enough money.

Conservative Republican Rep. John Whitmer, of Wichita, objected to increasing income taxes on the lowest earners and increasing spending.

House Minority Leader Rep. Jim Ward, also of Wichita, said fellow Democrats want lawmakers to consider a school funding bill first so they know how much they need to raise income taxes.

A similar but smaller tax plan fell flat Tuesday because some lawmakers worried it wouldn’t raise enough money to cover school funding.

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AP Political Writer John Hanna contributed to this report.

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