Tag Archives: Kansas Liberty

Kansas Chamber makes legislative endorsements

Yesterday the Kansas Chamber Political Action Committee, an arm of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, released its endorsements for the Kansas Legislature.

In announcing its endorsements, Kansas Chamber Interim President and CEO Kent Beisner said “We are proud to endorse a group of candidates who demonstrate a pro-jobs approach to stimulating the Kansas economy and the personal leadership to form strong public policy. These individuals are committed to reducing government spending and growing jobs in Kansas.”

The release also said that the Chamber PAC endorses exceptional lawmakers and candidates who support the tenets of free enterprise. The selection process focuses solely on the core business issues that impact the state’s economy.

The complete list of endorsements may be viewed at Kansas Chamber PAC Endorsements.

The following looks at the Chamber’s endorsements in districts where there is a primary election contest and the Chamber made an endorsement. Links are to candidates’ campaign websites, where available.

One position in the Kansas Senate is up for election this year. The appointed incumbent for district 7, in northeast Johnson County, is Terrie Huntington. The Chamber endorsed her opponent. David Harvey. Huntington’s votes for the big-spending budget and the sales tax increase probably made this an easy choice for the Chamber.

In primary elections for nomination to the Kansas House of Representatives, there are several contested primary elections. Here’s who the Chamber endorsed:

In Kansas House District 3 (Pittsburg and some area to its west), the Chamber endorsed Terry Calloway over Chad Titterington in the Republican primary. The winner of the primary will face incumbent Julie Menghini in the general election.

In Kansas House District 4 (Fort Scott and areas to its north and west), the Chamber endorsed Caryn Tyson over her opponent Renee Slinkard for the Republican nomination. The winner will face incumbent Shirley Palmer in the general election. An interesting issue in the general election will be Palmer trying to explain her vote in favor of the bill that increased spending, but not for the sales tax to pay for it.

In Kansas House District 9 (Allen County plus parts of Woodson, Coffey, Anderson, and Franklin Counties, including the city of Iola), the Chamber selected Raymond “Bud” Sifers over incumbent Bill Otto in the Republican primary. No Democrat filed, so the winner of the primary is the likely next representative. This year, Otto voted against the spending bill but for the sales tax increase, the only member of the House to vote this way on these two bills.

In Kansas House District 10 (Baldwin City, Wellsville, and small portions of Ottawa and Lawrence), the Chamber selected TerriLois Gregory over Scott James Barnhart in the Republican primary. The winner will advance to face Democratic incumbent Tony Brown in the general election.

In Kansas House District 13 (Eureka, Yates Center, Fredonia, Neodesha and surrounding area) the Chamber endorsed incumbent Forrest Knox over challenger Trent Forsyth in the Republican primary. No Democrat filed.

In Kansas House District 17 (parts of Shawnee and Lenexa) the Chamber selected Kelly Meigs over one-term incumbent Jill Quigley in the Republican primary. Bryan Cox has filed as a Democrat. Quigley fared poorly on both the Kansas Economic Freedom Index and AFP’s legislative scorecard.

In Kansas House District 19 (parts of Overland Park), the Chamber endorsed Jim Denning over challenger James A. Walker Jr. Democrat Delores Furtado is the incumbent, and will face the winner of the Republican primary in the general election.

Kansas House District 20 (parts of Overland Park and Leawood) has three Republicans — Matthew D. Webb, Stephanie Sawyer Clayton, and Rob Bruchman — seeking the nomination. Rob McKnight is the lone Democratic Party filer. This is the district that Kevin Yoder is vacating as he runs for the United States Congress. The Chamber endorsed Bruchman.

In Kansas House District 29 (parts of Overland Park) the Chamber endorsed challenger Richard Downing over first-term incumbent Sheryl L. Spalding. The winner will face Democrat Doug Dowell in the general election.

In Kansas House District 41 (Leavenworth) two Republicans and one Democrat are seeking the position held by retiring Marti Crow. The Chamber endorsed Jana Taylor Goodman over Louis Klemp in the Republican primary. Nancy Bauder is the Democratic candidate.

In Kansas House District 51 (western Shawnee county and parts of Waubunsee county including Alma and Eskridge), incumbent Mike Burgess is challenged by Tyler Feeney in the Republican primary, and the Chamber endorsed Burgess. No Democrat filed.

In Kansas House District 56 (parts of Topeka), the Chamber endorsed Becky Nioce over Jack P. Wu. Democrat Annie Tietze is the incumbent, and she is the only Democrat filer.

In Kansas House District 60 (parts of Emporia) incumbent Republican Don Hill is challenged by Daniel Buller. The Chamber chose to endorse Buller. Hill scores poorly on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index and AFP’s legislative scorecard and is mentioned as one of the leaders of the “left-wing Republican” faction of the House that votes for spending and tax increases. Democrat Michael “Mike” Dorcey will face the winner in the general election.

In Kansas House District 62 (Brown and Nemeha counties) Zachary D. Goodman and Randy Garber are seeking the Republican Party nomination to face incumbent Democrat Steve Lukert. The Chamber endorsed Goodman.

In Kansas House District 64 (Clay County plus parts of Dickinson, Geary, and Riley counties) incumbent Republican Vern Swanson is challenged by Michael Musselman. No Democrat filed. The Chamber endorsed Musselman. Swanson scores low on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index and AFP’s legislative scorecard.

Kansas House District 65 (Junction City and parts of Geary and Wabaunsee counties) has Republicans James P. Fawcett, Ernest F. Honas, and Jack Taylor vying to face Democrat Larry Hicks to replace Barbara Craft. The Chamber did mot make an endorsement in this district.

In Kansas House District 68 (parts of Morris and Dickinson counties including Council Grove and Abilene) two-term incumbent Republican Tom J. Moxley is challenged by Calvin Seadeek Jr. The Chamber endorsed Seadeek. There is no Democratic opponent in the general election. Moxley is another low-scoring Republican on scorecards that reward votes in favor of economic freedom and fiscal conservatism.

In House District 69 (parts of Salina) Tom Arpke is challenging incumbent Republican Deena L. Horst, who has represented the district since 1995. The Chamber endorsed Arpke. Gerrett Morris — not to be confused with Garrett Morris of Saturday Night Live fame — is the lone Democratic filer.

Kansas House District 70 (Chase and Marion counties, plus part of Butler County) features Cheryl Green challenging first-term incumbent J. Robert (Bob) Brookens. Green is noted for her portrayal of “Paul Revere” on her horse at several tea party events. The Chamber endorsed Green. There was no Democratic Party filer.

In Kansas House District 71 (parts of Salina) J. Neil Jednoralski and Ronald Young are challenging incumbent Charlie Roth. The Chamber endorsed Young. There was no Democratic Party filer.

Kansas House District 82 (Derby) has Republicans Joseph Ashby, Jim Howell, and Van A. Willis seeking to oppose Democrat E.L. Lee Kinch. Incumbent Don Myers is retiring. The Chamber endorsed Howell.

Kansas House District 83 (parts of east Wichita) has veteran incumbent Jo Ann Pottorff facing a challenge by Kyle Amos. The Chamber chose Amos for its endorsement. Sean Amore is the lone Democratic Party filer. Pottorf, who has served since 1985, is a low-scoring Republican on scorecards that reward votes in favor of economic freedom and fiscal conservatism.

Kansas House District 94 (parts of west Wichita) has two Republicans — Roy “Coach” Oeser and Wade A. Waterbury — seeking to replace incumbent Joe McLeland. There is no Democratic Party candidate. The Chamber endorsed McLeland.

In Kansas House District 96 (parts of west and southwest Wichita) incumbent Republican Phil Hermanson faces a challenge from Mark S. Gietzen. The winner will face Democratic challenger Brandon Whipple in the general election. The Chamber’s endorsement in this district went to Hermanson.

Kansas House District 109 (Jewell, Mitchell, Republic and Smith counties) has incumbent long-serving Republican Clay Aurand being challenged by Trey Allen Joy. No Democrat filed. The Chamber endorsed Aurand.

In Kansas House District 110 (Osborne, Rooks and Russell counties, and part of Ellis County), Republicans (no Democrat filed in this district) Dan L. Collins, Robert D. “Bob” Miller, and Mark B. Schulte have filed for this open seat. The Chamber selected Collins for its endorsement.

In Kansas House District 115 (Clark, Gray, Meade and Ford counties, including Dodge City) long-serving and past Speaker of the House Melvin J. Neufeld faces a challenge by Garrett Love. The Chamber’s endorsement went to Neufeld. There is no Democratic Party candidate.

Kansas House District 118 (Gove, Lane, Logan, Rush, Trego, Wallace and Wichita Counties) has Robert Tilford challenging first-term incumbent Don Hineman. Hineman is a low-scoring Republican on scorecards that reward votes in favor of economic freedom and fiscal conservatism. The Chamber did not make an endorsement in this district.

Kansas House District 120 (Cheyenne, Decatur, Norton, Phillips and Rawlins counties) has incumbent John M. Faber facing a challenge from Ward Cassidy. The winner will face Democrat Robert Strevey in the general election. The Chamber endorsed Faber.

Kansas House District 121 (Graham, Sheridan, Sherman and Thomas counties) has Brenda McCants challenging incumbent Jim Morrison, with no Democrat filing for the general election contest. Morrison score well on scorecards that reward votes in favor of economic freedom and fiscal conservatism, which is probably one of the reasons he earned the Chamber’s endorsement.

In Kansas House District 122 (Greeley, Hamilton, Kearny and Scott Counties, Finney County: City of Holcomb; Townships: Ivanhoe, Sherlock, Terry, Garden City (part) and Pierceville (part), Haskell County: City of Sublette; Townships: Haskell and Lockport)) Republican incumbent Gary K. Hayzlett faces a challenge from Mark Aurand. The winner of this primary will not face a Democratic party opponent in the general election. The Chamber’s endorsement in this district went to Hayzlett.

Finally, in Kansas House District 124 (Grant, Morton, Stanton and Stevens counties, Haskell County: City of Satanta and Dudley Township, Seward County: Seward Township), incumbent Bill Light is not seeking re-election. Republicans Dan Widder and J. Stephen Alford are seeking the Republican party nomination, with no Democrats having filed. The Chamber endorsed Widder.

More coverage of the Chamber PAC’s endorsements is available at Kansas Liberty in the story Kansas Chamber signals support of pro-business 2010 candidates.

Kansas Democrats described as ‘imploding’

Larry J. Sabato, who is director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, is a respected national political analyst who publishes Sabato’s Crystal Ball, an informative look at campaigns and races around the country.

In the most recent issue Sabato takes a look at 2010 gubernatorial races and concludes that “There’s now no question that the gubernatorial turnover in November will be historic.” He estimates that Republicans will add six or seven states to the count of those states with Republican governors.

In Kansas, Sabato is pointed in his criticism of Kansas Democrats and Governor Mark Parkinson:

Kansas: Gov. Mark Parkinson (D), who succeeded Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) when she joined President Obama’s Cabinet as Health and Human Services secretary, has left his party high and dry. He refused to run in 2010, and to add insult to injury, he picked as his new lieutenant governor a Democrat who also pledged not to run. Despite a respectable Democratic candidate in Tom Holland, the election is all but over. Republicans will re-take the governor’s office with current U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback. This is a remarkable example of the governing political party imploding. The GOP can count this one as in the bag.

Sabato rates Kansas as a “solid Republican takeover.”

While Sabato describes Kansas Senator Tom Holland as “respectable,” if Holland was attempting to use his votes in the senate this year to establish a record that might appeal to moderates, he failed in that effort. In the Kansas Economic Freedom Index, Holland is the only senator who scored 0%, meaning that voted against economic freedom in all votes considered by this index.

While it may be that the Kansas Democratic party is imploding, it has done very well in placing its members in statewide office. Considering Kansas statewide elected offices, five of the six are held by Democrats, and none were elected to their current positions.

Governor Parkinson, while elected lieutenant governor in 2006, rose to his present position when Kathleen Sebelius resigned as governor to take a position in President Obama’s cabinet.

Lieutenant Governor Troy Findley was appointed by Parkinson to replace himself.

Secretary of State Chriss Biggs was appointed by Parkinson when Republican Ron Thornburgh resigned earlier this year.

Attorney General Stephen Six was appointed by Sebelius when the incumbent, a Republican-turned-Democrat resigned.

Treasurer Dennis McKinney was appointed by Sebelius to replace Republican Lynn Jenkins, who won election to the United States Congress.

On the Kansas Supreme Court, there are three Republicans and three Democrats, with one Justice being unaffiliated, according to a Kansas Liberty story. In 2005, an analysis by the Kansas Meadowlark had the breakdown as five Democrats and two Republicans.

Kansas sales tax study criticized

Wichita State University economist John Wong has produced a study showing that while an increase in the Kansas sales tax would kill jobs, it would result in less net job loss than a reduction in state spending. This differs from an earlier study which finds much greater job loss.

The difference between the two studies, as explained in a Kansas Watchdog story (Studies Agree: A Sales Tax Increase Kills Jobs) is that one study is a static snapshot covering just one year, 2011. The other looked at the long-range consequences of the tax increase. It should not be surprising that the long-term study found greater harm to the Kansas economy.

A Kansas Liberty story (Opposition blasts Wong report stating increase in taxes better than budget cuts, a premium article available only to subscribers) interviewed the author of the study that looked at long-term consequences of the sales tax increase. The author, Dr. Art Hall, who is Director of the Center for Applied Economics at the University of Kansas told Kansas Liberty that “the [Wong] study fails to take into consideration how Kansas residents would react to a tax increase.” He told Kansas Liberty: “This assumes that consumers will not respond at all to an increase in prices as a result of an increase in sales tax, even though there is a mountain of evidence to suggest that consumers will respond and it won’t be positively.”

The Kansas Liberty study continued to explain the difference between the two approaches:

Hall said that because of the core differences in how the studies were conducted comparing the two different reports was like “comparing apples to oranges.”

The main factor setting the two reports apart was that Wong did not take into account behavioral response, Hall said. ”

This is the real world and no one believes that people are robots and Professor Wong does not either but his model does, Hall said.

A second Kansas Watchdog story looks at the story behind the Wong sales tax study. Not surprisingly, it centers around many of the usual school spending boosters.

There are two points that neither news organization touched: One is whether we value government jobs or private sector jobs most highly. Certainly for government employees and those who thrive on government spending, the answer is easy. We ought to realize, however, that government jobs are paid for by extracting payment from the productive private sector. If government was more productive than the private sector, one might be able to make a case for expansion of government jobs. But such a case cannot be made. We should be looking to shrink the government sector and expand the private sector.

Second, the dual roles of Professor Wong ought to be considered. Wong is a member of the Kansas Consensus Revenue Estimating Group, a six-member team that estimates the revenue the state will receive in the future. Its estimates are the numbers that the legislature and governor must use when forming budgets. Wong’s membership in the revenue estimating group and authorship of a study promoting sales taxes, while not necessarily a conflict of interest, is nonetheless a little too cozy for my comfort.

Kansas news digest

News from alternative media around Kansas for March 22, 2010.

Republicans on the left help defeat Health Care Freedom Amendment

(Kansas Liberty) “Greg Ward, co-founder of the Kansas 9.12 Project and founder of the Kansas Sovereignty Coalition, was disappointed in the outcome, but said he was especially concerned about the actions of the Republican members who voted against the measure. ‘I am amazed at the number of Republicans working to limit the liberties we have instead of limiting the overreaching government on both the federal and state level that seeks more and more control of our lives,’ Ward told Kansas Liberty.”

House, Senate committees take a stand against increasing taxes

(Kansas Liberty) “The House Appropriations Committee adopted a budget plan today that could patch the state’s deficits for fiscal year 2010 and fiscal year 2011 — without raising taxes. The proposal would leave the state with positive balance of more than $300 million in fiscal year 2011 and would cut approximately $360 million. The Republican plan would create a 1 percent across-the-board cut, excluding education and health and human services caseload.”

Tax on sugary beverages could still be considered

(Kansas Liberty) “The Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee made it clear yesterday that it was not interested in several of the tax-increasing proposals brought before the committee — including a proposal to create a tax on sugary beverages. For legislation to be voted on during a committee meeting, a member has to make a motion for the legislation to be passed out of committee, and that motion has to be seconded. However, the Senate Taxation Committee did not even have enough tax-supporting members for the majority of the proposals to be considered for a vote.”

Day-care bill passes GO in Senate

(Kansas Liberty) “Voice vote in general orders indicates Kansas Senate wants all child-care providers licensed and inspected by state.”

Kansas tax panel offers balanced budget, no new taxes

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas House Appropriations committee members unveiled a new plan Thursday for balancing next year’s state budget without raising taxes.”

Exemptions severely erode Kansas’ tax bases, audit finds

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas property tax exemptions for machinery and equipment created in 2006 have significantly eroded local tax bases across the state, state auditors reported Wednesday.”

KOSE seeks more protection for whistleblowers

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Some state employees feel they have a way to gain more revenue for Kansas. Two members of the Kansas Organization of State Employees (KOSE) testified before the Senate Ways and Means Committee Wednesday that strengthening whistleblower protection for state employees would mean less waste.”

Debunking Myths in the School Funding Debate

(Kansas Watchdog) “Protesters pushing for tax increases to end education funding cuts chanted, ‘We want what’s right, not what’s left’ at the State Capitol Tuesday.”

3rd District Candidates Debate

(Kansas Watchdog) “Overland Park, Kan. – A candidate debate and forum of eight 3rd Congressional District candidates was held Saturday at the Blue Valley Northwest High School. About 300 people attended to listen to 7 Republicans and a Libertarian candidate.” Related: Closing Statements from 3rd District Debate (video).

Sun Editor Steve Rose Needs Facts and Figures not Fear Mongering about Schools

(Kansas Watchdog) “Steve Rose in his ‘Memo’ this week, ‘Teachers, programs slashed. Thanks, Ray,’ needs more hard facts and figures instead of fear mongering about ‘slashing’ school budgets.”

Congressional Candidates Debate at Hope For America Meeting in Overland Park

(State of the State KS) “Republican and Libertarian candidates for Congress debated in Overland Park Saturday in the race for Congress in the 3rd District.”

U.S. House passes historic health reform legislation

(Kansas Health Institute News Service) “TOPEKA – The U.S. House has spoken on health reform, approving 219-212 a Senate-passed health reform bill that now goes to the president for signature into law. But the debate in Kansas, and across the country, continues.”

Menu labeling discussed

(Kansas Health Institute News Service) “TOPEKA – It’s not clear what will happen to federal health reform legislation that would require chain restaurants to label menu items, but the Kansas Legislature won’t take any action on the measure this year.”

Kansas sugar tax testimony heard, bill doesn’t advance

Wednesday’s meeting of the Kansas Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee heard testimony on SB 567, which would increase taxes on drinks sweetened with sugar. At the next day’s meeting, the bill didn’t advance out of committee.

Several hundred employees of soft drink companies, many wearing clothes with logos of their companies, were in the statehouse, and many attended the hearing.

In his opening remarks, Senator Les Donovan, a Wichita Republican, said that his intent is to revise the bill so that the tax is four-tenths of a cent per teaspoon of sugar instead of one cent, saying that to the audience of soft drink company employees “that should relieve 60% of your anxiety.”

He added, as he has said in other recent meetings of this committee, that he doesn’t want to have to ask people for more taxes. But he contended that the budget has been “slashed” many times, and that more tax revenue is required.

Proponents of the bill generally cited two reasons for their support: First, it would raise more revenue for the state. Second, it would improve the health of Kansans, a claim that some opponents of the bill disputed.

Kathy Cook, Executive Director of Kansas Families for Education Foundation, said the state’s children, disabled, and elderly can’t afford any more cuts. It’s more than a political decision, she said, it’s really now a moral decision. Her written testimony suggested increasing income taxes on those making over $100,000 per year.

Jason Eberhart-Phillips, the Kansas State Health Officer, said that sugar-sweetened beverages are “not a necessary part of anyone’s diet.” The drinks generally deliver many calories but few nutritional benefit.

Opponents of the bill raised the cross-border shopping issue. Written testimony from the Kansas Chamber of Commerce noted that “Our peer states are already salivating at the prospects of both a sales tax and a tobacco tax increase. You can now add the proposed doubling of the liquor gallonage tax and this bill to the list of tax increases our competitor states would like to see Kansas enact.”

The Kansas Beverage Association in its written testimony noted that the bill is not really about fighting obesity, as no money from the proposed tax is earmarked for obesity programs. (A California bill that is the model for this legislation places all the tax revenue collected in a fund for improving the health of children.)

The Association also said in its testimony that the American Beverage Association has set voluntary standards for beverages sold in schools, and that in three years, the number of calories from beverages sold in schools has been reduced by 90%. The testimony added that kids in schools are still eating pizza, cheeseburgers, candy bars, and ice cream.

The owner of a restaurant and bar in Olathe said that the competitive nature of the restaurant combined with the recession means that the ability to earn money on food sales is reduced, meaning that the beverage side of the business becomes more important. He said that this tax increase might drive him to reduce his employee count.

Some opponents noted the large number of businesses that would be affected by this tax, and the job losses that the tax would cause.

The fiscal note the accompanies the bill notes some difficulties in enforcing the tax: There are many distributors of the products to be taxed, and some don’t have a business location in Kansas. There are very small companies producing products that will have to be taxes, and there are private label products that are shipped directly to companies in Kansas. The note estimated that there could be 500 to 600 products that would be subject to this tax, and that ensuring compliance with the law may be difficult.

Senator Karin Brownlee, an Olathe Republican, said that the link between sugar pop and obesity is not clear. Taking issue with Chairman Donovan’s contention that revenues must be raised, she said that some legislators realize that spending is the problem. There were four years in a row, she said, where spending increased by 9 percent. “Until the state gets a handle on our spending, we don’t need to be talking about new taxes.” She asked that when businesses are not making money, how do we take more from them?

Donovan, who owns an automobile dealership, interjected that he will have to charge customers an additional three or four hundred dollars if the Kansas sales tax — based on his actions — is raised. “It’s not good for me, it’s not good for my business, but we are out of options, the way I see it.” He said he didn’t disagree with the claim of government bloat and that government spending has gone up faster than income lately, but the state has cut billions in taxes for both. business and individuals.

Brownlee said that it appears the majority is headed towards tax increases, but this should not be the first response to the budget problem.

The committee took action on this bill and other proposed tax bills on Thursday. As reported in Kansas Reporter and Kansas Liberty (Senate Committee says no to new taxes, House, Senate committees take a stand against increasing taxes) the tax bills did not advance out of committee.

Kansas news digest

News from alternative media around Kansas for March 16, 2010.

School consolidation measures deliberated in House

(Kansas Liberty) “The Kansas House tentatively approved a plan today that would allow three or more school districts to consolidate into two districts. House Bill 2704 originally included two consolidation-promoting components, but one of the components was stripped off on the House floor under the direction of Rep. Bill Light, R-Rolla.”

Concealed-carry bill stalls in committee

(Kansas Liberty) “Legislation promoting an alteration to the state’s concealed-carry law has been sitting in the House Federal and State Affairs committee since its February hearing. House Bill 2685 would require any state building that posts a sign prohibiting concealed-carry to have adequate security measures in place.”

Debate — who decides supremacy of Health Care Freedom Amendment?

(Kansas Liberty) “Conferees testifying on the Health Care Freedom Amendment butted heads today on whether the measure would provide the state with adequate protection from being forced to comply with any health-care mandates that could be passed by the federal government.”

Sales tax exemption repeals a possibility for nonprofits, other organizations

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas business owners and non-profit service organizations urged lawmakers Monday to reject proposals that would require groups as diverse as utility customers, Girl Scouts and coin-operated laundry owners to pay more sales taxes.”

Mega school districts would save millions, panel told

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Consolidating Kansas’ nearly 300 school districts into a fraction of that number, with 10,000 students in each district, would cut potentially hundreds of million of dollars in duplicative administrative costs, backers of such a plan told a Kansas House panel this week.”

KDOT looks at Amtrak expansion

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – The Kansas House voted 115 to five Thursday to give Kansas Secretary of Transportation Deb Miller the ability to prepare for expanded rail service in the state. That same day, Amtrak released a study concerning the feasibility of such passenger rail service, which was presented to the House Transportation committee.”

Tobacco tax plan hurts mom-and-pop stores, opponents say

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Tom Palace considered wearing a bulls-eye costume to testify before the Kansas Senate Assessment and Taxation committee hearing Wednesday. As executive director of the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association of Kansas, Palace feels that the legislature’s proposed options for additional revenue target his industry at every turn. Cigarette, liquor, fuel and sales taxes are all options that the legislature is examining to cover an estimated $400 million budget shortfall.”

Kansas panel changes proposed property tax lid

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas House Taxation committee members voted to send a proposed lid on new property tax increases to the House floor Tuesday after first changing a key condition in the plan.”

Spokesmen for developmentally disabled ask Supreme Court to halt spending cuts

(Kansas Health Institute News Service) “TOPEKA – A restraining order against the State of Kansas was requested Friday by advocates for the developmentally disabled, who said recent budget cuts are harmful and in violation of federal laws and the state constitution. ‘Thousands of people are hurting out there,’ said Tom Laing, executive director of Interhab, a group representing community programs for the developmentally disabled. ‘We should not want to live in a state where these things are allowed.'”

Legislature wades into tax bills this week

(Kansas Health Institute News Service) “TOPEKA – After weeks of talking about weak revenues and budget cuts, the Legislature this week takes up various tax proposals ranging from elimination of sales tax exemptions to a new levy on soda pop and other sugared drinks.”

Governor says votes there for major tax increase

(Kansas Health Institute News Service) “TOPEKA – There are enough votes to pass a $300 million to $400 million tax increase, the governor told KHI News Service. But still uncertain, he said, is the specific mix of taxes legislators will settle on. They currently have before them proposals to increase the general sales tax but also tobacco and alcohol. The Senate also is considering a measure that for the first time tax the sugar in soft drinks and other sugary beverages. The Senate and House this week also are looking at bills that would repeal sales tax exemptions.”

Sunshine Week 2010: Sunshine is the Best Disinfectant

(Kansas Watchdog) “Our nation’s founding documents state clearly that the people, endowed with fundamental, inalienable rights, are the masters of government, which derives its just power from the consent of the governed. But, can consent be given without knowledge of what is consented to? Citizens are in an uphill battle against the inertia of decades of apathy. Adding urgency to the battle is the dramatic growth of government influence, power and complexity both nationally and locally.”

A Look Inside the Kansas State Board of Education

(Kansas Watchdog) “The March meeting of the Kansas State Board of Education made no headlines in the major media but the future of Kansas’ youth, the financial future of the state and its citizens’ freedoms all depend, in part, on how the Board works and the decisions it makes. A few glimpses into the Board’s operation are telling.”

My view: Campaign Finance should cover judicial retention elections

(Kansas Watchdog) “Regardless of where one is on the political spectrum, open government, open records and transparency are issues that everyone can agree on. When Tom Witt from the Kansas Equality Coalition asked me to speak in favor of transparency in judicial retention elections, I knew that was an issue I had no choice but to embrace.”

Governor Mark Parkinson on the Economy, the Budget and Kansas Health

(State of the State KS) “Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson (D) addresses budget shortfalls, key Capitol legislative issues and the need for bipartisan work in Kansas and Washington.”

Budget Director Duane Goossen On This Year’s $106 Million Problem

(State of the State KS) “Budget Director Duane Goossen talks about new information the state is short $106 million for 2010 and what should be done to fix it.”

School Consolidation Considered as Solution To Budget Crisis

(State of the State KS) “The House Education Budget committee heard debate on a bill Thursday that would consolidate the current 293 school districts to about 45 across the state.”

Kansas school funding email confuses, misleads

Kansas Liberty is reporting that an email message making the rounds is based on incorrect and misleading information.

The email complains that Kansas state legislators are paid $47,780 per year, while the state spends just $4,100 per year per child for education.

Actual legislator pay is less than half the figure cited. The email is simply incorrect on this.

Then, what about the school spending? The number cited is base state aid per pupil. It’s a starting point for a complicated formula that determines how much money the state will actually spend. One thing is certain: the state spends much more than that, and schools spend even more.

For the 2008-2009 school year, spending by the state was $7,344 per student, according to the Kansas Department of Education. So even considering state spending only, the base figure represents only a portion of school spending.

After adding federal and local funding, per student spending for the same year was $12,660 — over three times the figure cited in the email.

Misleading? Absolutely.

It’s no wonder that school spending advocates focus on only a small portion of school spending. It’s for the same reason that they dispute the large unencumbered fund balances that Kansas Watchdog has uncovered. The fact is that schools have a tremendous amount of money, and they’re embarrassed to have that exposed.