Representative, 74th District
The legislative session ended May 26 after reaching agreement on budget and tax adjustments. It certainly ended as one of the most unusual sessions for many veteran legislative members.
The House had the first try on the budget. Of course, it’s a negotiated budget so everyone is happy with parts of it and unhappy with other parts. K-12 education was left at about the same funding level as last year, and higher education was cut by 1.5 percent. Most departments and agencies saw additional cuts in their budgets, but many of those were relatively minor compared to the last few years.
Another major concern was funding for corrections. A little funding was added to the corrections, but not as much as they requested. Corrections funding is always an issue because of the safety for the general public.
The tax bill was an entirely different question. With the large tax cuts that occurred last year, it was apparent that some adjustments and corrections needed to be made. The word adjustments could be interpreted to mean tax increases, but the net effects of last year’s tax cuts and this year’s adjustments is lower overall taxes than in the past.
The sales tax rate will drop from 6.3 percent to 6.15 percent rather than dropping to 5.7 percent, and income taxes will be slowly ratcheted down as revenues are expected to grow. A good thing is that charitable donations will remain fully deductible and that food sales tax rebates will still be available for low income individuals and families. This was a compromise plan that does not lower sales taxes as far as expected, but still allows the Kansas Department of Transportation the .4 percent for road construction and maintenance.
Everyone is pleased that the session is finished after 99 days. Until the next session begins, House and Senate members constantly have legislative matters on their minds through the summer months.