Northeast Johnson County Conservatives turn out to hear KPI’s Trabert on income tax cuts, school funding

Dave Trabert of the Kansas Policy Institute spoke to the Northeast Johnson County Conservatives Tuesday night in Leawood.
Dave Trabert of the Kansas Policy Institute spoke to the Northeast Johnson County Conservatives Tuesday night in Leawood.

The Northeast Johnson County Conservatives, an organization launched barely three months ago, packed the room Tuesday night with close to 90 people for a monthly meeting headlined by Dave Trabert of the Kansas Policy Institute.

A standing room only crowd at O’Neill’s in Leawood heard Trabert outline the KPI views on the Kansas tax cuts, school funding block grants and the court’s recent Gannon decisions on school funding. Armed with slides filled with economic data, Trabert said that states with no income tax from 1998 to 2012 have had a much higher record of private sector job growth than those with an income tax.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback made a poor choice of words when he called the income tax cuts an “experiment,” Trabert said. “The experiment has been done. That’s settled,” he said. Eleven states have enacted a personal income tax since 1960 and each one of them has a smaller share of GDP and state and local tax revenue than the other 39 states, Trabert said.

“No one is going to be able to make an honest assessment of the tax plan for at least 10 years,” Trabert said.

He told the group that the state is more than keeping up with the inflation on the revenue side. “We don’t believe it’s a revenue problem and the data supports it,” he said. “It’s the spending.” The issue, Trabert said, is about providing the services at a better price. “Conservatives really do care about government gets run. (We) want good roads and low taxes.”

On school funding, Trabert said the block grants for school districts enacted during the recent legislative session represent an increase in money for the schools and not because of the money for the KPERS retirement system. Shawnee Mission, according to his charts, will see a 2.8 percent increase, exclusive of KPERS, special education and bond and interest funding.

In a chart detailing school employment and enrollment over the last 10 years, Shawnee Mission was depicted as dropping 5.6 percent in enrollment and dropping 8.3 percent in total employment, including 8.0 percent in management and 4.2 percent in teachers.

Trabert said he thought the Kansas Supreme Court decision on school funding in Gannon was a “good decision” because it focused on outcomes as the standard for adequacy. “(I) feel pretty good about it going to the Supreme Court again,” he said.

The Northeast Johnson County Conservatives is chaired by Neil Melton and was founded by Melton and John Anderson. The group plans monthly meetings and has an upcoming schedule of speakers that includes Kris Kobach and Rep. Kevin Yoder.