The legislative session is over, having ended at about 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 11. It’s the first session in years, I’m told, to end in daylight.
As you might know by now, we passed a balanced but fragile budget—and increased the sales tax by one cent, which sunsets in three years, at which time 0.4 of that cent will stay for road funding.
You had said through the survey that if a tax had to go up, you would prefer it be the sale tax rather than property tax, so that’s what I advocated for. I also pushed hard for a cigarette and beer tax increase as a way to reduce the sales tax increase.
I even advocated with senators whom I know. The Senate first tried a cigarette-tax proposal, but couldn’t muster the votes to pass it.
The Senate couldn’t even get a proposal for beer/alcohol tax out of its committee, so the Senate proceeded with the sales tax proposal as its only choice.
You will hear a lot from the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Americans for “Prosperity” in the upcoming months claiming I worked to raise your taxes—and they are likely to finance my opposition in the primary election, to advance their agenda.
By now, however, you’ve read my column enough to know what I have advocated for, what I believe, and a tax increase isn’t it. The question has always been about who would raise the tax and what tax would be raised, not whether (please refer to my previous columns).
I believe in and fought for conservative values, including the responsibility to balance a budget with real money. I fought for what you advocated I do.
I did avoid massive property tax increases at the local level. I did advocate for the discretionary taxes first. I then advocated the entire state share the burden—the broadest based tax available. Those who travel through Kansas and those who temporarily live here while working pay sales tax, too, not just you and me.
Please keep in mind we have already cut more than $1 billion in state spending. The budget we did pass cut more than $200 million!
Consider this: The budget we refused to pass depended on more than $200 million in funding that is not likely to come in. It didn’t fund the elderly in nursing homes, and the nursing homes in the 70th District would have lost over $1 million in cost reimbursement—not profit but cost reimbursement—in the next year, not to mention the losses so far this year.
They cannot continue to lose like that and stay in business. That would have translated into more jobs lost and fewer workers throughout Kansas, again raising our tax burden.
The budget we didn’t pass also would have cut $7 million from young children’s health and learning programs, and the estimate is that, for every dollar spent, Kansas saves from $7 to $20 in future spending through less special education and other special services.
That budget would also have cut $86 million more from Kansas schools. In a recession, do we really want more unemployed workers while also cutting basic school programs? It’s one thing to cut “frills” but $86 million?
You may have read the KPERS retirement fund has been annually underfunded by the legislature for more than 10 years and is now drastically underfunded. This is not a discretionary expense, it is required.
Well, the budget advocated by the Chamber and American for Prosperity wouldn’t have funded KPERS again.
The list goes on and on. Now, would you call that a budget based on conservative principals? By November, the budget would likely have been under water!
I have heard from many of you thanking me for the effort, and for my advocacy for the 70th District. You’re welcome; it is an honor to serve you. Let’s get through this recession together, and let’s be about the business of improving Kansas.
Please contact me by e-mail at Brookens70@sbcglobal.net, or write me at 201 Meadow Lane, Marion, KS 66861, or call me at 620-382-2133. Leave a message, if you’d like.