From House Minority Leader Jim Ward:
Our Work Is Done (for now)!
After 113 days of legislative business, the Kansas legislature adjourned on Saturday night having finally completed our work on school finance, taxes, and budget.
While it lasted longer than anyone would have preferred, the outcomes were positive.
Below are highlights of some of the 2017 legislative accomplishments that Democrats strongly championed.
- Ended the Brownback tax experiment and returned tax fairness to Kansas … this important action resulted in Moody’s upgrading the state’s credit rating from negative to stable
- Restored middle class tax credits for child care, mortgage deductions. property tax deductions, and medical expense deductions
- Passed gun safety legislation to keep guns out of our mental health institutions, hospitals, and nursing homes (this bill still needs the Governor’s signature)
- Obtained pay increases for state employees, the first increase many have seen in nearly a decade
- Increased funding for safety net clinics and community mental health centers
- Restored funding of the Senior Care Act and Meals on Wheels
- Rewrote the K-12 finance formula
While the ultimate decision on school finance remains uncertain, significant steps were made to return to per pupil funding with additional dollars for special needs students, all-day kindergarten, and at-risk four-year-old instruction. These are improvements to the formula that will long benefit Kansas children. The bill is waiting for the Governor’s signature. Once signed, it will be sent to the Kansas Supreme Court for their review.
I anticipate the Court will find the legislature did not adequately fund our obligations. The levels of funding in the bill for 2018 are less than we provided schools for instruction during the year of 2009. We have more work to do and could be called back for a special session to address funding levels.
In the meantime, I’m back home in southeast Wichita trying to get caught up on my law practice and my sleep! As always, I appreciate your support, encouragement, and input.