I voted to do away with the 2012 tax plan today. So I'll just clear the air now. I made the politically-difficult vote, but a vote that overwhelming majorities of constituents have been asking me to make. At the end of the day, I was elected to represent my constituents - not to make the easy vote. I'm sure my political opponents and their big-money special interests will start lining up to attack me leading into next year's re-election bid. Some political post cards have already hit parts of the state attacking thoughtful legislators looking for solutions to our budget crisis.
All that being said, let's look at reality outside of the political sound bites that you may hear. By and large, these are not new taxes. We are going back to roughly the tax rates in place before the 2012 tax plan that has bankrupted our state. Kansas is broke. Our debt is ballooning and the interest rates we pay are increasing. We have cheated and borrowed from our kids' future and our retirees to balance the budget since the 2012 tax cut "experiment". Last fall, voters stood up and said "no" to the special interests who were benefiting most from the tax cuts and attacking those of us standing up for our districts. Kansans sent scores of new faces to Topeka, saying "fix this mess". And today, Kansans got the beginning of what I hope will correct our financial ship.
I am a small-government conservative Republican. We have made a lot of cuts and found a lot of savings over the past couple of years. There is more work to be done on that side of the ledger and I will be the first one to support responsible, smaller government. However, there seems to be no way to find more than $750 million in additional cuts or savings over the next year. Our choice today was simple: correct the revenue side of the ledger or face hundreds of millions in cuts to our schools alone - let alone infrastructure, mental health and other important functions.
Some who may be reading this may not agree with my vote. As I have always said, I welcome you to contact me to discuss your concerns. Today's action is only the beginning - this bill will be up for final action tomorrow before heading to the Senate. If a bill reaches the governor's desk, we don't have a clear understanding of whether he will sign it or veto it. With 83 "yea" votes in the House today, we are one vote away from a veto-proof majority.
Please keep in touch!
Representative Greg Lewis