25 May 2018 | Tax and Budget

Holliday: In 2018 session, lawmakers made progress for Kansas

Heidi Holliday
May 25, 2018

Last June, when a bipartisan majority of Kansas lawmakers passed comprehensive tax reform, we knew that recovery from the Brownback tax plan would take time. In the 2018 session, legislators made significant progress for our state, advancing good policies and rejecting proposals that would endanger Kansas’ recovery.

Here are some of the session’s highlights:

• The Kansas House stopped a risky tax plan during the veto session. The premise of the bill was to clarify how Kansas conforms to federal tax changes. But without a clear fiscal note and with many questions about the treatment of overseas corporate income, lawmakers rightly rejected the bill. Next session, lawmakers can return with more information, ready to address these questions.

• Both chambers passed a budget that begins to reinvest in our state’s essential services, enhancing funding for K12 education, early childhood and higher education, infrastructure, and state services, as well as shoring up our state’s pension system, KPERS. More work remains – but this is a good start. As Kansas’ budget recovers, lawmakers should continue to reinvest in our state’s core services – education, affordable health care, infrastructure, and thriving communities.

• An amendment was added to the budget that clarifies how Kansas will make deposits into the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund (or “Rainy Day Fund”). This is a fiscally responsible step that helps ensure essential state services will not be jeopardized during economic downturns.

• The House overwhelmingly passed two bills to increase transparency around economic incentives. Kansas spends hundreds of millions of dollars annually on economic development incentives, but there is no structure for evaluating their impact. In 2019, lawmakers should advance policies that provide greater transparency of economic development incentive programs.

• The House rejected the “tripwire” budget proviso that would have automatically eliminated most of this year’s budget work if the Supreme Court rules that school finance is inadequate.

• The Senate rejected calls for a Convention of States, a dangerous and misguided effort to alter the U.S. Constitution. Kansas lawmakers would have been unable to limit the process, scope, or outcome of a constitutional convention and the nation’s leading economists agree that a balanced-budget requirement would lead to dire consequences for our national economy.

Every Kansan should enjoy great public schools. Every family should be able to afford health care. Every Kansan should be able to drive on safe roads and live in safe communities. We’re grateful for the steps we took as a state this year to recover from the Brownback tax experiment, and know that sound tax and budget choices can keep us on the right track moving forward.

We thank legislators for their hard work this session and look forward to what we can accomplish together in the future.

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