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Kansas Legislature
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Communities of the
25th District

Mission Hills
Mission Woods
Prairie Village
Roeland Park
Westwood Hills


In Topeka: 
State Capitol Room 352-A
Topeka, KS 66612

At home in Fairway
4124 Brookridge Drive
Fairway, KS 66205

Dear Friend:

Good morning from Topeka. Our session began at 2pm last Monday when we officially gaveled in for the 2018 session. There is always an air of excitement on our first day back, and it was great to reconnect with colleagues after the long break. Committees held organizational meetings and have begun to hear status reports from state agencies, as is the custom.
Throughout session, I will provide regular updates to highlight Capitol happenings, including what is occurring in my committees and important topics being debated on the floor. I will continue to host legislative forums throughout 2018 to provide news from the legislature, listen to your ideas and answer your questions. 
In case you missed it, I held a legislative preview Town Hall meeting with Sen. Barbara Bollier on January 6th. The Shawnee Mission Post was there and provided a “Facebook Live” livestream of the meeting. You can access the article as well as the archived video here

State of the State address
Governor Brownback delivered the State of the State address to both the House and Senate last Tuesday night. In case you missed it:
In a complete about-face, the governor publicly stated that ignoring the decision of the Kansas Supreme Court is “not an option.” He called on the legislature to provide $600 million over the next five years to K-12 public education, and outlined a series of specific outcomes and expectations tied to the new funding. Specifically, he articulated the following goals for our State Board of Education to consider:
  • Reach a 95% statewide graduation rate
  • Attain a statewide post-secondary effectiveness rate of 75%
  • Continue to move schools statewide toward the Kansans Can model for school redesign launched by the Kansas Department of Education
The Governor also set five strategic objectives for Kansas school districts to meet by the 2022-2023 school year:
  • Have the highest teacher pay average of our neighboring states, including having a higher teacher pay average than the State of Missouri by the 2018-2019 school year
  • Increase the number of school counselors and school psychologists in Kansas schools by 150.00 FTE positions each year
  • Have 50 schools participating in the Kansas Can school redesign project
  • Offer 15.0 credit hours of dual credit coursework to every Kansas high school student, at no cost to students (including tuition, fees or books), through a partnership between Kansas high schools and the state's institutions of higher learning
  • Offer every Kansas high school student, at no cost to the student, the choice of taking either the ACT college entrance exam or the Work Keys assessments (for attainment of the National Career Readiness Certificate) during his or her high school career
The devil is in the details, of course. On Wednesday, the governor’s budget proposal was delivered to the legislature. It included the promised increase to K-12, as well as over $200 million in new spending for a variety of other areas. When asked by our appropriations committee how these increases would be funded, the budget director answered that the strength of the growing Trump economy would take care of things.
Under scrutiny in committee, it was revealed that the $600 million in new education spending the governor called for was actually significantly less – it factored in the increase already planned for next year, and removed the consumer price index escalator we put in place last year. Also revealed under questioning, over $300 million would continue to be swept from transportation in perpetuity. The budget does not balance even so, and is thus impossible to fund without significant changes to our revenue outlook.
I support a responsible answer to the court order regarding schools, as well as attention to dire needs in other critical areas of the state budget. My initial reaction to the governor’s speech Tuesday night was skepticism regarding his willingness to go farther than paying lip service to a list of feel-good talking points on his way out the door. We have seen this before from this governor when he came out in favor of full funding for all-day kindergarten in 2014 but failed to support the legislative changes required to make that a reality.
The governor made our work much harder than it needed to be last session by vetoing our tax plan. He doubled down on his criticism of our efforts when we overrode his veto. His official statements from June accused the legislature of reckless spending, and predicted economic ruin for the state. In the fall, his special interest supporters attacked lawmakers who voted for the override. With his help a year ago, we could have settled the Gannon lawsuit once and for all. HB 2270, the bill I introduced last year, called for the level of education funding the governor now says he supports.
The real question we face in the wake of his speech is whether this governor will support legislation that finds responsible ways to meet the goals outlined in his speech. In other words, will we need 63 House votes and 21 Senate votes or will we once again need to find 84 and 27 willing to override his veto? Adding to the dynamic is the question of when, or if, the governor will be confirmed for the ambassador post he seeks. As legislators, our best course of action to deal with the uncertainty is to simply ignore it, roll up our sleeves and get to work on serious, comprehensive solutions to the difficult challenges we face.
Fiscal facts:
If the Kansas state general fund (SGF) had grown at the same rate as Kansas personal income since 2008, we would now be spending $7.7 billion instead of the actual $6.6 billion we are currently spending.
If SGF had grown at the rate of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) it would be $7 billion instead of the $6.6 billion we are currently spending.
When people complain about the percent of budget (size of the pie)  K-12 education spending requires, please know the K-12 share of SGF spending has changed little since 1994 when the state assumed a larger role in education funding. KASB has done a more detailed analysis.

K-12 Education
In October, the Kansas Supreme Court issued their ruling on the education formula and financing the legislature sent them in June. The total funding was deemed inadequate, just as I predicted. The majority of the new formula was found to be constitutional, but four specific points involving the Local Option Budget (LOB) and the use of Capital Outlay funding were deemed to violate the terms of equity. 

In response, I filed HB 2445 last week to address these concerns. I am working with the chairman of House K-12 Budget to schedule a hearing. It is likely to occur in several weeks, as we have some housekeeping to attend to in the committee first. I will be sure to keep you posted on the progress of this bill.
Committee Assignments
My committee assignments remain the same this year. I serve on the following: 
Federal and State Affairs
Meets daily at 9:00 a.m. in Room 346-S
K-12 Education Budget 
Meets daily at 1:30 p.m. in Room 346-S
Meets daily at 3:30 in Room 546-S

Audio live streaming is now available in all of our Committee rooms.  Committee meetings can be found here.
Proceedings on the House floor are set to be live-streamed this year. Unfortunately, at the moment the camera is broken. Our IT department has estimated it will take 2-3 weeks to get the system up and running. In the meantime, our House proceedings are being filmed and posted after the fact on this YouTube channel.

Once the equipment is in place, this channel will carry our House proceedings live. I encourage you to subscribe to the channel – once we have a certain number of subscribers, a custom URL will be created. 

Contact Information
My office location will continue to be on the 3rd floor of the Capitol, Room 352-S. To reach me at the Capitol, please call 785-296-7686 or email me at

Again, I highly encourage you to reach out if you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding the issues facing our state by calling, emailing or scheduling an appointment with me. 
Please don't hesitate to contact me with questions or ideas about these or other legislative issues. It is my honor to serve you.
Please don't hesitate to contact me with questions or ideas about these or other legislative issues. It is my honor to serve you.


Rep. Melissa Rooker
Kansas State Representative, District 25
Serving Northeast Johnson County
Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved.
Melissa Rooker,