A local state senator and representatives attended a legislative breakfast held Saturday morning at Mercy Hospital, answering a variety of questions raised by concerned citizens attending the event.
District 2 Representative Adam Lusker, District 4 Representative Trevor Jacobs and District 12 Senator Caryn Tyson were present for questions, while District 13 Senator Jake LaTurner was absent due to illness.
“We want to make sure you have an opportunity for questions,” moderator Mark McCoy said to the audience.
One of the first topics of interest addressed the issue of taxes, specifically House Bill 2178, the largest tax increase for the state which increases taxes retroactively for owners of smaller businesses, requiring them to pay that increase starting from January 2017. Governor Sam Brownback vetoed that bill in the past week, with the senate upholding the veto, while the House of Representatives voted to override that veto.
Jacobs said he voted against the override because of his promise to supporters that he would not support tax increases. Tyson said she does not believe the logistics of the bill are what the state needs, although she said changes do need to be made in order to improve the state’s budget.
“We’ve been working very diligently in the senate on tax,” Tyson said, adding there will be a number of tax bills addressed this session and that she believes there needs to be a single tax code for all businesses. “We need a fair tax structure.”
Lusker said he voted for the override, saying the state needs to increase its revenue in order to improve the state budget so further cuts need not be made.
“Fixing our state budget is our job,” Lusker said.
Jacobs said the state spending needs to be addressed before the state begins to increase taxes.
“The government needs to learn to do some squeezing,” Jacobs said, adding he believes limits need to be set. “We have to go by boundaries.”
The issue of the increase of Medicaid in Kansas also came up—which Tyson said may not be a good idea currently since the federal administration is reconsidering the Affordable Care Act, which Jacobs referred to as a “sinking ship.” Lusk said he believes such an increase is vital for rural hospitals.
Other concerns raised addressed topics such as cuts to education—which Tyson said she believes will not happen at this time, but added she cannot guarantee that; and the Highway 69 project, with Jacobs saying the Bourbon County phase is scheduled to begin soon and be completed by the end of 2018.
“It’s not easy to do what they do,” McCoy said of the Bourbon County representatives. “And I commend them for that.”
See the following link for more information about House Bill 2178: http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2017_18/measures/documents/hb2178_00_0000.pdf