Politicians always tell us “Topeka is a mess” or “Washington is a mess.” Well, I’m not sure that I ever truly understood until now. Things are an absolute mess in the Statehouse. We are now 12 days past the date the legislative session should have been done — making the 2015 session the second longest in history. And I see no end in sight — just a lot of political games being played. And to top it all off, the governor is telling us that state employees will have to be furloughed starting this weekend if things aren’t resolved.
At a cost of about $43,000 per day to operate the legislature when we are in session, that’s equivalent to about 12 teacher salaries that have gone to waste.
There is almost no talk of real revenue reform. Proposals thus far are short-term band-aids that fix the budget hole only until the next election — and then the bottom falls out again of the budget. Real revenue reform would lead to a long-term solution – and not tax increases that hit hard-working Kansas families the most. We need to have a balanced approach — one that looks at all three legs of the tax stool —sales, property and income taxes.
Taxpayers and businesses owners in our district have told me time and time again that protecting priorities such as schools, roads and infrastructure are their number one concern. The legislature must look at all revenue options to create a fair and balanced tax policy for the state.
I am afraid that the longer Topeka politicians sit around, the solution will be a middle-of-the night, back room deal that contains unintended consequences. Programs like Rural Opportunity Zones, important to our district, will get lost in the shuffle. Not to mention - every day there seems to be non-budget related proposals coming forward to take away local control from things like elections and city ordinances.
I wish I had better news to report. I know I enjoyed being home in the district for the Memorial Day weekend. Although, the St. John Jubilee parade was cancelled due to rain — the first parade I was to participate in as a member of the Kansas House. It looks very likely that I will miss most of the festivities going on in Pratt this week as well, if we remain in session. If there are events or meetings in your area that I should know about or attend, please let me know!
Greg Lewis represents District 114 in the Kansas House of Representatives. He can be reached at (785) 296-7682 or firstname.lastname@example.org