- Associated Press - Thursday, May 4, 2017

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Discussions about increasing taxes in Kansas to fix the state’s budget and provide additional funds for public schools have again stalled, as leaders look for a plan lawmakers can support.

House and Senate tax negotiators were scheduled to meet Thursday morning, but the meeting was cancelled. The House and Senate tax committees met separately Thursday afternoon but didn’t advance any new proposals to either chamber.

The chambers cancelled votes on two similar income tax packages this week because they didn’t have enough support. The plans would have created a third income tax rate for high earners, increased income tax rates on all filers and repealed a tax exemption for small businesses that GOP Gov. Sam Brownback has championed.

Kansas faces projected budget shortfalls totaling $887 million through June 2019, and the Kansas Supreme Court ruled in March that state education funding is inadequate. Democrats and moderate Republicans are insisting that tax increases be large enough to provide extra money for schools while also closing the state’s budget gaps - more than $1 billion in new revenue over two years.

House leaders have been working on a plan that retains the state’s two tax rates, one for lower-income earners and the other, for upper-income filers, thinking it might appeal to Brownback.

But many lawmakers want to add a third tax rate that applies to the state’s wealthiest residents. The state’s two rates are currently 2.7 percent and 4.6 percent.

Brownback vetoed a three-bracket tax increase in February that set a new top rate of 5.45 percent. The Senate came up short of a veto override.

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