Capitol Update: The most important tasks get put off until the end of the session; four critical issues must be addressed

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Each legislative session, we provide northeast Johnson County’s elected officials with the chance to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. Rep. Stephanie Clayton submits this week’s update:

Stephanie Clayton
Stephanie Clayton

As the legislature approaches the conclusion of the 2017 Session, several vitally important tasks remain.  As has unfortunately been the case the past several years, the legislature has left the most important tasks to the very end of the session. There are four tasks whose completion is essential to the proper functioning of your state government: Rescission, School Finance Reform, Tax Reform, and the 2018-2019 budgets. It is of utmost importance that these tasks be completed in the following order:

Rescission:
A rescission bill is a budgetary bill that makes the adjustments necessary to balance the budget for the current fiscal year. The legislature had to take action in this regard, due to revenue shortfalls and a refusal on the part of the Executive branch to make cuts. Because this action deals with the current budget, and might affect payroll, rescission is the task that must be completed first. The House and Senate have both passed different versions of this bill, and await reconciliation into a bill to then send to the Governor.

School Finance:
Next on our list should be the crafting of a school finance formula. This legislation that should be designed to last the state for the next 20 years, and will be our framework for how we fund our educational system, and, as such, it should be put into place prior to our tax and budget policies. Our finance formula is the mathematical language expressing to our constituents the values of the State regarding the way that we educate our children. First, we determine what we value, and then, we determine how to shape our Tax and Budgetary policies in order to make those values manifest.

Tax and Budget:
Once these policies are set into place, any necessary changes need to be made in order to stabilize revenue, and balance the budget. Those who would seek to pass tax and budget policy prior to school finance give me pause, as my concern is that they might wish to avoid properly funding education.

Kansans can all agree that we want the school finance situation to be resolved. Resolution will occur when we set practical policy that fulfils our constitutional obligation, and when we put funding into place that will enable us to continue to fulfil it. I have no doubt that you will see a functional and reasonable school finance, tax plan, and budget all passed by the legislature prior to June 30.

I enjoy hearing from you! You can e-mail me at stephanie.clayton@house.ks.gov, find me on facebook at facebook.com/clayton4kansas/, follow me on twitter @sscjocoks, or join me at my monthly legislative coffees.