The 2012 regular session adjourned this week after passing numerous bills and conference committee reports. On April 25th, legislators will return for veto session, when any vetoes by the Governor will be considered. I will keep you updated as these decisions are finalized in the coming weeks.
All House and Senate sessions are open to the public. Live broadcasts of Senate and House proceedings can be found at www.kslegislature.org. I am honored to serve as your Senator. My office is located in room 124-E. Please feel free to visit or to contact me at 785-296-7387 if you should have any questions.
Budget conference continues to meet
Negotiators from both the House and Senate budget committees continued to meet this week, working to iron out a compromise budget plan before the Regular Session ends.
While more than 100 differences have been worked out, a lot of ground still needs to be covered.
If a compromise isn’t reached this week, a serious threat will be posed to state agencies. The Judicial Branch, for example, sent legislators a letter this week saying that if they don’t receive funding soon they will have to begin furloughing their employees April 14th. And without a budget, the bi-partisan school finance plan would be jeopardized.
In last week’s newsletter, I included information about the five–year, $3.7 billion tax plan approved by the Senate. I voted against this plan because I believe, if enacted, it will be impossible for the state to adequately fund public education and property tax relief.
Here’s the breakdown of the plan’s net cost during each of the next five years:
2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 5-year total
233.1M 829M 851.5M 878.6M 911.1M 3.703B
This week, we learned that the plan will have an even more devastating impact than previously thought. According to the non-partisan Kansas Legislative Research Department (KLRD), the average Kansas taxpayer contributes $1,959 in income and sales tax revenue each year. To pay for this plan, the State would need to create 423,175 new, good-paying jobs in 18 months.
While I fully support job creation, it’s unreasonable to assume that the state could create nearly a half-million jobs in just over one year. And if sufficient jobs aren’t created, the state would be forced to find money elsewhere to pay for income tax breaks that benefit big businesses and our wealthiest residents.
When reviewing our tax system, our first priority should be easing the burden on the middle class and ensuring that everyone pays their fair share. That means lowering the state tax burden in a way that is fiscally fair and responsible. Tax relief should be provided, first and foremost, to middle-class families and Kansans living on fixed incomes.