2018 legislative session is underway
Thomas Jefferson said, “It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debt as it goes.”
The 2018 session of the Kansas legislature began at 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 8. The following day, Governor Sam Brownback addressed the joint legislature giving his last State of the State address as Governor of our state. Since the legislative process takes time to get into full swing, this article, as well as those in the next two or three weeks will address what has occurred during the Brownback era.
From January 2000 to December 2010 (known by many as the “Lost Decade”), Kansas saw a decrease of nearly 26,000 private sector jobs. During that same period, approximately 10,000 government jobs were added. These statistics demonstrated the State was headed in the wrong direction. In order to attract new businesses and jobs, expand existing companies and improve the State’s economic outlook, there would have to be change.
The 2011 Legislative session began with the swearing in of the House of Representatives, who were elected in 2010 — 34 newly elected legislators, including myself. The session began with the task of filling a $500 million deficit for fiscal year (FY) 2011, which would end June 30. This was caused by growing government to the point to which Kansas saw its ending balance drop from $935 million in FY 2007 to a negative balance of $27 million in FY 2010. Spending cuts were made in order to end FY 2011 in the black with a State General Fund ending balance of $188 million. While this was an improvement over the previous year, the 7.5 percent statutorily required ending balance was not met.
In FY 2012, the legislature gave Kansas taxpayers a break by passing a huge income tax cut. While many said it was too much and aided the rich, 79 percent of the cuts went to families and put Kansas on the path to eliminate income tax. The tax reform would not take affect until 2013. While I would have liked to seen the tax bill tweaked in some areas, it was the best we could get. However, I was not pleased to see expenditures increase. FY 2012 ended with $502 million in the bank. I voted for the budget, as it met the 7.5 percent ending balance, but voiced my concern that we still needed to reduce expenditures.
Although many have blamed the 2012-13 tax reforms for the financial situation we are currently facing, the facts show a different story. Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said, “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”
The tax reform was passed to stimulate private sector job growth. In the decade prior to the implementation of the tax plan, the average annual increase in private sector jobs was a mere 0.3 percent. Since the reform went into effect, Kansas has seen a 1.4 percent average increase of private sector jobs.
I have a two or three more articles that will bring us up to date and will share them in the next couple of weeks. I also am attempting to use social media more and will post these articles on Facebook. If you would like them sent via email, please send your email information to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is an honor to serve citizens of the 62nd District. Until next time, may the blessings of God be yours.
Randy Garber3 Posts
Randy Garber is the Kansas House 62nd District Representative. His first term was 2011. He currently is vice chair for the Utilities and Telecommunications Committee, and also sits on the following committees: Social Services Budget, Agriculture and Natural Resources Budget, Energy and Environment, and Telecommunications Study.