Capitol Update: Rep. Brandon Woodard urges vetoes on tax and trans athlete bills

Rep. Brandon Woodard, of Kansas' 30th House District.

If you have been following along with the legislation flying through the Kansas statehouse, you know that the majority party is spending its energy throwing the kitchen sink of poor policy onto Gov. Kelly’s desk.

From discriminatory legislation to an imbalanced budget, the long days in Topeka have produced policy that is antithetical to the wishes of Kansans. As we look ahead to the tail end of the session, here are a few policy areas to watch for.

Buckle up!

The Budget

Kansas law requires the Legislature to pass a budget before it is allowed to adjourn. That budget must also be balanced and provide for a minimum ending balance of 7.5% to provide a cushion for economic volatility.

Last week, the Legislature passed a budget with plenty of great programs in it, but it leaves the state broke by July 2022 and spends nearly $600 million more than we are expected to receive in tax revenue and does not include K-12 school funding.

As we recover from the pandemic, it is imperative that we pass a sustainable budget that funds our core services. I anticipate a veto on this budget bill.

K-12 Education Funding

The House passed, and the Senate killed a K-12 education funding package that would’ve funded our public K-12 schools but also included provisions to divert public dollars to private schools and utilized one-time funds to meet our constitutional obligation to full K-12 funding.

Had it passed the Senate, it would’ve surely been vetoed by the governor. When we reconvene in May, we’ll need to roll up our sleeves and hold strong for a clean school funding bill.

Anti-trans Athlete Bill

Continuing the trend of solutions in search of a problem, the Legislature passed SB 55, which bans trans women from competing in women’s athletics.

Citing a need to “save girls sports,” this discriminatory legislation bans trans Kansans from playing sports with the team that matches their gender identity. This bill is not about sports, it’s about an ongoing movement to bully children and prevent trans people from being involved in our businesses, in a restroom, in our military, or on the athletic field.

I urge Gov. Kelly to veto this hateful bill.

Corporate Tax Handouts

Another mega-tax bill was sent to the governor’s desk, this one with about $300 million in handouts to giant, multinational corporations.

Also included in the bill is the ability for Kansans to itemize at the state level, regardless of what they do at the federal level, as well as an increase in the standard deduction. While I support many pieces of the bill, I had to vote NO, as it creates a giant dent in the state’s revenue projections, which would lead to a cut in funding for our public schools, higher education institutions, and more.

Should this be vetoed, I’d expect a less costly version to be revived.

What’s next

If these items are vetoed, I anticipate each of them to be reworked and to come back up before lawmakers.

I will remain committed to fully funding our public K-12 schools, passing a balanced budget, and avoiding tax policy that could renew the issues we faced during the dreaded tax experiment.

If you have ideas for policy that we could be working on in Topeka, please reach out at brandon.woodard@house.ks.gov or (785)296-5593.

It is an honor to represent District 30 in the Kansas House of Representatives.