Capitol update: ‘Clarifications’ to claims made in national address by Brownback

In an effort to keep our readers better informed about the state government actions that impact our communities, we are featuring regular update columns from northeast Johnson County’s elected officials in the legislature: Rep. Barbara Bollier, Rep. Stephanie Clayton, Rep. Melissa Rooker and Sen. Kay Wolf. Check back on Mondays to find out what’s been happening the past week in Topeka. Rep. Bollier submits this week’s update:

Rep. Barbara Bollier

For this article, I wanted to share some political opining related to our upcoming budget and tax bills. The Governor recently gave the weekly Republican Address to the entire nation, and his comments need some clarification, if you will. Hopefully this will help you understand some of the dilemmas we have as we work our tax and budget bill for the year. Please realize that the ONLY bill required by law to be passed each session is the budget bill; the tax structure does not have to change. Here are some excerpts from the Governor in italics with my comments below.

“The year I became governor, the state began the fiscal year with just $876.05 in the bank—and it projected a $500 million deficit. Two years later we had a $500 million ending balance—and did it without tax increases.”

In fact, Democrats and Moderate Republicans had joined together just prior to his election to pass a tax plan that included a one-cent sales tax increase. Spending was cut as well. Those of us who voted for this tax increase did so to protect funding for our schools, our transportation system, and our most vulnerable citizens who cannot care for themselves. I voted for that temporary (3 year) sales tax increase.

“Now to make that financial turnaround a reality, we didn’t cut state funding to schools, we didn’t cut state funding for our universities and colleges, we didn’t cut state funding for our Medicaid system, we didn’t cut state funding for our prisons.”

But we will this year due to the elimination of the corporate income tax and the decrease in the individual income tax passed in last year’s tax bill.

Neither the House nor the Senate liked this particular plan, but it was passed with the intent to modify the bill. That did not happen, and the Governor signed it into law. Now we are faced with a massive deficit and must find a way to increase our revenues or make unconscionable cuts to our budget. The Governor does not want to revisit the income tax cuts but wants to continue the one cent sales tax permanently. Some of us would rather see 1) the business pass-through income exemption capped at $100K for tax years 2013-2016, moving to $250K in 2017, and having no limit by 2018, 2)the standard tax deduction remain as it currently stands ($4500 for head of household, $6000 married filing jointly) and 3)slower movement on the personal income tax rate cuts. There are other options, as well, that do not include backing out of the promise to have a TEMPORARY sales tax increase.

“We reformed our state’s Medicaid system to save a billion dollars over five years while at the same time, we expanded health care services for our neediest Kansans.”

The Governor is referring to moving our Medicaid system into a privately-run managed care plan called KanCare. The savings referred to are purely speculative.

Now is the time for you to contact your legislator and let her know what you think the tax plan and the budget should include for the upcoming year. It is your Kansas…let your voice be heard!

Here is contact information for your local elected officials in northeast Johnson County.

Sen. Kay Wolf: kay@kansansforkay.com
Rep. Barbara Bollier: barbarabollier@gmail.com
Rep. Stephanie Clayton: stephaniesawyerclayton@gmail.com
Rep. Emily Perry: perryforkansas@gmail.com
Rep. Melissa Rooker: rookerfamily@netscape.net