As you have probably already heard, the Legislature went back to Topeka this past week after what is called the April break. During that break, I really appreciated spending a couple of weeks in the district and hearing from various people. I was able to attend town hall meetings with voters in Pratt and Lyons along with some other meetings with business and community leaders. With all the rain Stafford County had gotten, I didn't get much corn planting done but it gave me time to focus on my legislative responsibilities.
As you can see from the picture below, I enjoyed dinner with some teachers from several school districts. They shared their concerns with me and I was able to hear about what is going on in the classroom.
While home, my wife Susan, some of the Chambers of Commerce, and Stafford County Flour Mills helped put together a basket for a Special Olympics Fundraiser and silent auction that was held last week in Topeka. We received many compliments on the nice mix of items and how it highlighted the 113th District. Thank you to all who helped out. There was $17,000.00 raised to help with Special Olympics.
Legislators got a not-so-surprising dose of reality when the state economists met a couple of weeks ago and reduced the revenue projections by yet another nearly $100 million for next year alone. In light of this, I was hoping I would go back to Topeka to find legislators more willing to discuss true fiscal responsibility to fix our state budget problems and protect priorities important to us. The band-aid approach that attempts to balance the budget in the short run does little to fix the budget down the road. The proposals thus far take hundreds of millions of dollars from priorities like schools and roads in a short-sighted attempt to balance the budget this year - yet we will still face another several hundred million dollar hole again next year!
During the break, the vast majority of folks that I heard from in the district told me that they want to see the Legislature fix the 2012 tax breaks so that priorities such as infrastructure, roads and schools are protected. I would venture to say that most legislators heard the same thing from their constituents as well. Yet when I talk with others in the capitol about the need to look at all options to fix the budget for the long term, my comments don't seem to sink in very much. Don’t get me wrong, there are other legislators who feel as I do and want to look at all options; I am afraid we are in the minority.
We have at least one more week in session - but more likely it will take longer. It looks like a budget will pass first that requires a tax increase to balance - and only after the budget is passed will a tax bill come forward. It’s a backwards process in my mind but whether the votes are there for either the budget or a tax package (yet to be seen) is unclear to me.
Please continue to stay in touch with me. I rely heavily on what I hear from my District. I am here to represent you. Please forward this e-newsletter to your contact list and encourage folks to sign up on the website www.lewisforkansas.com
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District. Thank you.