January 16, 2017 Newsletter
The Legislature hit the ground running. My first committee met immediately upon adjournment of the swearing in ceremony.
The 2017 Legislative session started Monday, January 9. The atmosphere in the legislature this first week has been energetic and focused. Many legislators seem to realize the problems and are tired of kicking the can down the road. The new House leadership has indicated they want to make sure all voices are heard. Ad Astra per Aspera, To the Stars with Difficulty, will definitely apply as we work through the solutions to our structural deficit. Whether it’s the implementation of more efficient practices in state government, or more sacrifices by all of us, the changes necessary will be difficult. I promise to work for long-term solutions that make Kansas better.
Governor's Budget Proposal
The Governor’s Budget contains a mix of recommendations – some necessary and some unacceptable – as we work toward implementing a long-term solution to the state’s structural deficit. I was disappointed that the Governor failed to present ideas for a long-term solution, instead focusing on one-time fixes that will only kick the can down the road a little farther. Among the Governor’s recommendations:
- FY 2019 revenue includes $265.0 million from tobacco securitization. This is the money we use every year to fund many early childhood development programs, like Early Head Start and Russell Child Development. If we securitize this money we will lose $55 to $65 million a year in revenue. This securitization money runs out in 2019 and there is no mechanism to replace it afterwards, which sets the next governor and the next legislature up for an even bigger problem.
- State Highway Fund “ordinary” and “extraordinary” transfers in FY 2019 would be $293.1 million. There is nothing in the Governor’s proposal to ever restore any funding to KDOT.
- Freeze SGF contributions at similar dollar amounts as contributed in FY 2016. Extend the amortization period for the KPERS State/School group by 10 years until 2043, which would amount to a decrease of $198.3 Million in 2019. This is like refinancing a mortgage on your house and adding another 10 years to it because you can’t afford to make the payment.
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do.” Amelia Earhart
- Implement A&M efficiency recommendations, including K-12 health benefit consolidation and sourcing select benefit categories on a statewide basis. The FY 2019 budget assumes savings of $89.0 million in anticipation of implementation of the same efficiencies. Many doubt that the A&M efficiency recommendations can be implemented to result in savings of this magnitude. For example, one of the recommendations is to do away with food purchasing by local school districts and require it all to be procured through the state government.
I will be having my next Legislative Coffee Saturday, January 21st
at 10 am at Spencer Browne’s Coffee House.Please come by and let me know your thoughts.
Being a page is a great opportunity for students to see our democracy in action. Pages must be at least 12 years of age and are available for the months of January, February, and March. You may contact my Office Assistant, Lisa Davis at (785) 296-7466 to set up a date. Also the government and history teachers at our Middle Schools often set up trips for a limited number of students. I am allowed 3 Pages per month.
Please reach out to me regarding issues with our state government that I can help with. I do ask that you send the request to me by email. My email address is: Shannon.email@example.com
. This insures that I get the information correctly to the agency we are working with.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve. Please contact me anytime. My email is: Shannon.firstname.lastname@example.org
. Topeka Office Phone: (785) 296-7466 Office at the Capitol: 561W (fifth floor west wing) 300 SW 10th Ave., Topeka KS 66612