At State of the City address, Leawood’s Dunn says there is ‘no way to honestly put a sunny perspective’ on Kansas finances

Mayor Peggy Dunn delivered Leawood's State of the City address Tuesday.
Mayor Peggy Dunn delivered Leawood’s State of the City address Tuesday.

From Mayor Peggy Dunn’s perspective, the contrast between the state of affairs in Leawood versus Kansas at large couldn’t be much more stark.

Before a packed house at the Lodge at Ironwoods on hand for her annual State of the City address, Dunn detailed a lengthy list of accomplishments and accolades that put Leawood in elite company nationally. A population that boasts extremely high levels of education and household income combined with low city crime and a growing business community make Leawood among the most successful cities in Kansas and beyond, Dunn argued.

But, she noted, the city’s continued success was not entirely within the control of her office and the city council.

“As everyone is well aware, Leawood is not an island,” she said. “Federal and State actions do have ramifications, both positive and negative, on our City and on our residents, especially when they involve unfunded mandates.”

Dunn said the situation in Topeka has been particularly grim.

“With regards to the State, there is no way to honestly put a sunny perspective on the fiscal condition of Kansas,” Dunn said.

She expressed some optimism that the large class of freshmen legislators this session appeared to understand how grave the $350 million budget shortfall this fiscal year and the nearly $1 billion projected shortfall through fiscal year 2019 truly are.

“[It] will require difficult votes and a great deal of courage,” she said. “Their tax package needs to be both comprehensive and sustainable, with acknowledgment of the importance of a higher credit rating for the State of Kansas. Unfortunately, the looming State Supreme Court ruling on the adequacy of the State’s school funding amount per student is anticipated to only make the State’s budget situation worse by hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Text of Dunn’s full remarks provided by the city of Leawood is embedded below: