Senate showdown on override vote moment of truth for Kelly loyalists

In an inflationary landscape where American families are spending some $950 per month more to maintain their standard of living than they were in 2021, Monday’s expected vote in the Kansas Senate to override Governor Kelly’s tax cut veto will come down to a game of “chicken” for eight Democrat loyalists and a single Republican anointed favorite of the governor.

 The decision is a pointed one: Stay true to the governor, or go back to your district during the coming election season and explain to voters paying hundreds of dollars more a month for gas and groceries why you let the governor keep a $4 billion surplus of their tax money.

Monday’s Senate vote will come on the heels of Friday’s 104-15 House override of Kelly’s veto of the tax cuts included in House Bill 2036 – a collection of reductions in income tax, property and sales taxes aimed at providing tax relief to Kansans during a time of unprecedented inflation and an unprecedented accumulated glut of Kansas tax dollars. 

The measure first passed without any opposition in the House and with bi-partisan support in the Senate 24-9, but Kelly vetoed it earlier in the week.

Olathe Senator Rob Olson/KAKE photo

Pundits who follow the state legislature say Republicans pressing for the override may even face static from some of the 24 original supporters of the bill, who may be spending the weekend pushing for special favors in order to keep their vote in the fold. One of those in question is Dennis Pyle, the rogue Republican-turned-Independent-turned back-to-Republican whose Democrat-supported third party candidacy helped scuttle the 2022 governor’s race for Republican Derek Schmidt. 

If Senate Republicans can hold the votes they have, they need three more to pick up 27 for the 2/3 override vote in the 40-member Senate. 

Those possibilities, most likely determined by how vocal members of their districts are in calling for tax relief in the next two days, will culminate one way or the other by the Monday morning vote. Original “Nay” voters  include:

  • Ethan Corson, Democrat from Prairie Village;
  • Marci Francisco, Democrat from Lawrence;
  • Tom Holland, Democrat from Baldwin City;
  • Cindy Holscher, Democrat from Overland Park;
  • Rob Olson, Republican from Olathe, a frequent Republican defector and favorite “bipartisan” supporter of the governor;
  • Pat Pettey, Senate minority whip, from Kansas City, Kansas;
  • Usha Reddi, Democrat from Manhattan;
  • Dinah Sykes, Democrat from Lenexa;
  • Mary Ware, Democrat from Wichita.

The rate of accrual of Kansas’ cash surplus has far exceeded the rate of inflation, even with inflationary spikes in the last three years, according to the Kansas Policy Institute. All told, KPI’s research points to HB 2036 saving Kansas $636.7 million in its first year of FY 2025, and between $458.9 and $468.7 million annually from FY 2026 to FY 2029. 

CBS News says American households are spending an average of more than $11,400 annually to maintain their standard of living than they spent in 2021. The U.S. House Budget Committee estimates that inflationary impact at some $15,000 annually – more than $1,200 per month.

A recent Brookings Institute poll found 22% of Americans say prices and inflation are their most important issue, compared to only 7% who cite jobs and the economy. Some 73% rate the economy as fair or poor, and 52% say they are worse off now than four years ago. 

Dane Hicks is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and the United States Marine Corps Officer Candidate School at Quantico, VA. He is the author of novels "The Skinning Tree" and "A Whisper For Help." As publisher of the Anderson County Review in Garnett, KS., he is a recipient of the Kansas Press Association's Boyd Community Service Award as well as more than 60 awards for excellence in news, editorial and photography.

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