The legislative session of 2016 may be the time that some conservative legislators begin to move away from the governor on issues like the tax cuts, two political science professors told a crowd at MainStream Coalition’s annual pre-legislature forum.
“Honestly, I do see some glimmer of hope – because things have gotten so bad,” KU professor Burdett Loomis told the group. “I think 2016 may be the year when stuff gets real,” said Michael Smith of Emporia State.
Taxes, Medicaid and K-12 funding will be the big items to watch, Loomis said. “They hate the courts,” Loomis said of conservative legislators, but that may not be an issue in the legislature. Loomis said five judicial retention elections are coming up in the fall and they see that as a way to get control of the courts.
Among things to watch next session, Loomis asked will “very conservative but not crazy Republicans” move ahead on reality based decisions. He said the state bureaucracy has been hollowed out to the point that it is a question of competency.
At the surface, Smith said, the state appears to still be functioning: traffic still moves and schools are still open. But, in 2016 and 2017 that may be when the state feels the pinch as highway projects get canceled and morale drops in schools. He said those with a disabled relative already have felt the pinch.
Loomis predicted that sooner or later spending cuts will affect K-12 school funding. He called the sales tax on groceries, which reaches close to 10 percent in many cities, “immoral.”