Written by Rep. Bob Brookens Tuesday, 03 April 2012 15:24The Legislature normally passes a mega budget, an expansive budget that reconciles 2012 fiscal matters and puts together a framework for the next fiscal year. Well, we passed one, and so did the Senate.
During negotiations to reconcile 200-plus differences, three senators and three representatives met in conference and came to agreement. We were to have voted to approve the agreement Friday about 3 p.m. just before taking our April break. (The governor gets about 20 days to consider signing or vetoing the bills we’ve passed out so far.)
However, we were told the House conferees would not sign the conference report after discovering the consequences of an item they previously had agreed to pertaining to school funding.
Written by Rep. Bob Brookens Tuesday, 27 March 2012 14:47On Monday last week we grappled with the proposal for a new KPERS plan—the retirement program for Kansas’ new governmental workers set out in House substitute for SB 259.
The plan—if it clears both houses and is approved by the governor—will be called “Tier III” and deals with workers hired in and after 2014.
It does not impact those currently in KPERS in any way; it only deals with new hires. The proposal is a cash-balance plan, which means the state or local government will contribute 4 percent and the employee will contribute 6 percent to the fund, and the money goes into that employee’s account.
The contribution will earn a guaranteed 5 percent rate of return, with the possibility of bonus payments if certain...
Written by Rep. Bob Brookens Tuesday, 20 March 2012 14:08The income-tax bill, House Substitute for SB 177, was heard Tuesday on the floor of the House. It would completely eliminate the income tax, and I still oppose that concept.
I imagine that we who oppose this bill will be accused of wanting to grow government, which is nonsense. It’s a tax bill chock full of bad tax policy, in my judgment. That’s why I voted no.
Numerous amendments modified the bill and truly made it less awful, but that’s kind of like putting lipstick on a pig. In my view, the underlying bill is fatally flawed, and no amount of lipstick can pretty it up. It passed 68-56.
Last week’s other biggie was the budget. The March budget measure, which we call the mega budget, is designed to do two things: first...
Written by Rep. Bob Brookens Tuesday, 13 March 2012 15:14HB 2609 is the new HB 2212 I wrote about two weeks ago. It came back as promised Friday, with both its moving parts.
The property-tax relief portion in the bill of $45 million to local governments (not schools) is very important to all Kansans, and that part passed.
The bill in its final form also had that part forcing local governments to lower their mill levies to match the previous year’s budget, then raise to the mill levy needed to do business. This “poke-in-the-eye” to local governments is unnecessary in the 70th District, but likely is a harmless exercise in futility and paperwork.
Our local leaders consistently talk openly and often about the moving parts and interaction of mill levies and budgets. We initially had that...
Written by Rep. Bob Brookens Tuesday, 06 March 2012 15:54When we reconvened after turnaround on Wednesday, we reconsidered HB 2212 that I wrote about last week.
We were asked to vote the bill down so those who thought the bill contained the original part and the amendment would have the opportunity to vote on that; we had the assurance the bill would return soon with both parts.
Using “gotcha” politics is truly no way to run the legislature, so I voted to kill the bill on the faith that it would return for another vote. I will continue to push for property-tax relief.
Some more of the significant bills passed in the House before turnaround were:
• The House modified a tuition grant program in HB2435, hoping to boost technical education enrollment; at the same time the Senate modified...
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