Written by Rep. Bob Brookens Tuesday, 05 June 2012 16:01
This may be my last column for the session. Sine Die was Friday, June 1, and the session is officially over.
However, if maps that redistrict the Kansas House and Senate, Congress and the state school board are not set by the time you read this, Kansas may have to extend the filing deadline for candidates, as well as possibly move back the date of the primary election from the first Tuesday in August.
We might even need a special legislative session to set that date. Watch this newspaper to inform you about the primary election. It’s likely to hit the front page. Don’t fail to vote in the primary!
I had thought the House redistricting map was finalized, agreed-to, and that I knew the 70th District’s new boundaries, even though the Legislature never passed our new map nor did we send it to the governor.
Well, I no longer have that thought. A suit has been filed in federal district court, and a panel of three judges held hearings about the redistricting process for all four categories.
During the hearings, the court made it clear that the deviations in the House re-map may be improper and noncompliant with the one-person-one-vote standard, although both the House and Senate had approved the map.
The court suggested it may need to re-draw even the uncontroversial House map, in addition to the Senate and Congressional maps. Since the proposed 70th District is 4.63 percent over the ideal population and the court is expected to aim for less than 2 percent—possibly less than 1 percent—deviation, District 70 (us) might be adjusted from what I’d reported earlier in this column. Time will tell.
Pay attention to this newspaper for the final result. The results could be my “one-more-time” column next week—if we have answers by then.
Between the new tax bill—HB 2117—and the new budget, the Legislature did not lower local property taxes. That’s one of the many reasons I didn’t vote for either bill.
Even though the House and Senate passed the property-tax relief provision by overwhelming majorities, that got put into “other” tax bills, and the bill signed by the governor has no such provision; neither does the budget that passed.
“Because of the new tax bill” the House negotiators asserted we had no money with which to fund a property-tax cut, and we also had no money to put in the budget for school equalization funding for budget year 2013. The budget did at least raise the base state aid per student.
As you reread my columns from this session, and as you read articles and editorials in newspapers from around the state related to the income tax bill HB 2117 as it started out and as HB 2117 was finally passed and signed by the governor, and as you consider the sizeable cuts in revenue because of that bill, and as you recall that we likely have no funding in line to substantially replace the tax cuts, and as you remember that 0.6 percent of our sales tax also melts away on July 1, 2013, I want you to consider our options:
• We could repeal HB 2117 and start over;
• We could modify the income tax cuts to make less severe cuts than those in HB 2117;
• We could make the sales tax permanent at its current level (we promised it would be temporary when passed);
• We could reduce the size of the state budget by substantially cutting programs; we all think state government is too big until a proposal cuts a program we believe in, and then we oppose the cut;
• We could develop a mix of all those things.
I would like to hear from you with your suggestions on this dilemma, including what programs you hope the state will cut and which you believe are vital to the state—worthy of protecting as a priority.
I want to know what you want cut, what you want left alone, and I want to know how you want to pay for it.
You may e-mail me at: Brookens70@sbcglobal.net or write me at 201 Meadow Lane, Marion, KS 66861, or call me at 620-382-2133. The session is over, and I’m back in Marion full-time.