Start of the 2017 Session
If you haven't heard, the Kansas Legislature convened the 2017 Legislative Session on Monday. With a new biennium comes a new office...and you could say that I have moved up in the world! Up to the 2nd floor that is...So while my phone number (785-296-7682
) and email (email@example.com
) remain the same, you'll have to find me in 268-W if you come to Topeka - and we love to have guests from the district, so let me know if you are coming!
My new office affords me greater access to the Governor and his staff - they are right next door! There have been several near run-ins in the hallway already. Hopefully this means that I can more easily bend some ears on issues important to our district as we get underway!
I've already had a number of folks stop by. See if you know any of them:
Becca Flowers (Skyline Superintendent), Marsha Evanson and Cris Seidel (South Central Kansas Special Ed Coop)
Suzan Patton (Pratt Superintendent), Donna Hoener-Queal (Pratt School Board Member)
Ben Jacobs (Ellinwood Superintendent) and Dr. Catherine Strecker (Ellinwood School Board) were by as well but we forgot to snap a picture!
Many issues must be addressed during session. The first item out of the chute is a rescission bill to balance the budget of the CURRENT year. But the budget for next year is even bleaker. The governor's proposals to balance both budgets seemed to be met with little enthusiasm. But at some point, we need true reform, not more budget gimmicks and debt to balance the budget.
Hearings have already been held on tax reform. With all the new members in both chambers this year, we are getting a real conversation going about truly fixing our revenue streams and putting all three legs back under the tax stool (income tax, property tax and sales tax).
If something is to be done with income taxes, the revenue won't help the state until NEXT year - that doesn't provide a lot of hope for important priorities like our schools, hospitals or roads in the current year. And, while I am very hopeful that the Legislature will agree on some form of real revenue reform, we will face great resistance from the governor. Where that battle ends up, I don't think anyone knows yet.
As always, please keep me informed on your thoughts and concerns. I appreciate your prayers for strength and thoughtfulness during the session. Thank you!
Representative Greg Lewis