Capitol Update: Sen. Ethan Corson says proposed budget will invest in schools, provide tax relief

In his Capitol Update column this week, Democratic Sen. Ethan Corson says he is encouraged by Gov. Laura Kelly's budget which, he argues, "strikes the appropriate balance of making the critical investments we need to continue to grow the economy with tax relief for every Kansan." File image.

Each week during the 2022 Kansas legislative session, we will provide Blue Valley area legislators the opportunity to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol.

Below is this week’s submission from Democratic Sen. Ethan Corson of Kansas Senate District 7, covering an area of northeast Johnson County that includes Fairway, Mission, Mission Hills, Mission Woods, Prairie Village, Roeland Park, Westwood, Westwood Hills, and parts of Leawood and Overland Park. 

I love political films, and one of my favorites is “All the President’s Men,” the 1976 film about the Watergate scandal starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

There’s a great scene in that movie where Deep Throat, Woodward’s anonymous source, tells Woodward to “follow the money” in order to uncover the plot.

“Follow the money” is also good advice for uncovering what’s really happening in Topeka. That’s why I was encouraged by the budget Gov. Laura Kelly released last week. It strikes the appropriate balance of making the critical investments we need to continue to grow the economy with tax relief for every Kansan.

On the investment side of the ledger, I’ll focus on two areas: education and workforce development.

Education:

  • K-12: Fully funds K-12 education, while adding additional enhancements in critical areas like professional development, mental health, and dyslexia.
  • Higher education: Restores university funding to pre-pandemic levels, including $46.7 million to universities to freeze tuition for another year.

Workforce:

  • $2 million increase in programs that assist firms in new job creation and that help companies who are restructuring or retraining their workforce
  • $1 million to small business R&D grants
  • $700,000 to work based learning
  • $500,000 to registered apprenticeship programs
  • $2.5 million to fully fund technical education programs to meet the growing demand for skilled labor

With respect to tax relief, the state’s projected fiscal year ending balance of $2.9 billion gives us the ability to provide meaningful tax relief to all Kansans while remaining fiscally responsible.

Specifically, the governor has proposed:

  • ending the state sales tax on food, which would save a family of four $500/year, and
  • providing a one-time tax rebate of $250/per resident tax filer ($500 for those who are married and filed jointly).

It’s my hope that the final budget closely resembles the one released this week. Our students deserve fully-funded schools and affordable higher education opportunities. Our businesses need a skilled workforce. Our families need tax relief. Gov. Kelly’s budget accomplishes each of these priorities. At a time when there’s a lot of “hot air” coming out of Topeka, my advice is “follow the money.”

It’s a privilege to represent our community in the Kansas Senate. I can be reached at Ethan.Corson@senate.ks.gov or 785-296-7390.

Each week the legislature is in session (and monthly when we’re not), I send an email newsletter discussing what I’m working on. If you’d like to receive it, please go here and select “Legislative Updates.”

Additionally, myself, along with Reps. Stephanie Clayton, Jerry Stogsdill, Jarrod Ousley and Rui Xu, and State Board of Education member Melanie Haas, hold a town hall at 9:00am on the fourth Saturday of each month at the Sylvester Powell Community Center in Mission, 6200 Martway Street.

You can also join us virtually. This is your opportunity to hear what’s going on in Topeka and get your questions answered. Our next town hall is Saturday, January 22. I hope to see you there!