Capitol Update: Clayton says it will ‘take time to mend’ damage done the past several years

Rep. Stephanie Clayton says “Kansas has yet to achieve complete stability. Tremendous damage was done in the past several years, and that which has been torn takes time to mend.”

Each legislative session, we provide the Shawnee Mission area’s elected officials with the chance to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. We’re kicking off this year’s Capitol Update columns a week ahead of the start of the legislative session. Rep. Stephanie Clayton, Rep. Jarrod Ousley and Sen. Barbara Bollier are scheduled to send updates this week. Here’s Rep. Clayton’s filing:

Good morning. A week from today, the 2019 Kansas Legislative Session will begin. As is always the case, the first week of the legislative session will start slowly. Monday will begin with the inauguration of the new Governor, Laura Kelly, followed by the swearing-in of the new legislators in the House, as well as a handful of new Senators.

Legislators will have their first committee meetings, where committee rules, goals, and expectations will be laid out by the committee chairs. Some changes to committee structure in the House have taken place, most notably the elimination of the water and environment and technology committees, and the creation of a new Rural Revitalization committee. This term, I am pleased to continue my work on the Federal and State Affairs Committee, and to serve on two new committees: Education, and Taxation.

The Governor will also present her budget to the legislature. This budget will be used as a baseline for legislators to approve, and, if necessary, amend. Past Johnson County legislator Larry Campbell has been retained as budget director by the Governor-elect; this bipartisan approach bodes well for our state, and I hope to see more positive appointments to the executive team as the legislative session progresses.

The legislature has the opportunity to continue along the course of stability that was solidified with the partial repeal of the Brownback tax plan in 2017. The new plan that was put into place allowed the legislature to develop and fund a school finance plan that, with a few very minor changes, will finally put the state in compliance with our constitution after nearly a decade of chaos.

Kansas has yet to achieve complete stability. Tremendous damage was done in the past several years, and that which has been torn takes time to mend. The legislature needs to establish an impenetrable funding source for transportation. Waiting lists for services for our most vulnerable citizens need to be reduced, or eliminated entirely. Legislators across all parties and factions campaigned on reducing or eliminating the sales tax on groceries, as our grocery tax burden is among the highest in the nation.

The people of Kansas made it clear that they support a strong school funding system, a fully funded transportation plan, safety net programs that care for our most vulnerable Kansans, a Medicaid program that allows for hardworking Kansans to seek preventative care, and tax relief that is beneficial to all Kansans, regardless of income. I look forward to working with my colleagues and our new governor to bring these wishes of Kansans to fruition.

I work for you! I enjoy hearing questions, thoughts, and ideas from constituents. For real-time updates from the House Floor, including all of the votes that I take, follow me on Twitter @sscjocoks. Find me on Facebook, or email me at stephanie.clayton@house.ks.gov. My first town hall of the session will be at Foo’s Café in Leawood at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26.