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Dear Friend:

This week was the stuff of good public service. These are the hard votes I promised to make when I ran and I’m very grateful for your support via phone and email. I have hundreds of emails in support of the tax bill, most of which came in direct response to a postcard sent against me by Americans for Prosperity, anticipating my yes vote.

Around the District
Please join me for a town hall meeting on Saturday, February 25th, at the Leawood Pioneer Library (4700 Town Center Drive), 9-11 am.

It was great to welcome pages Elizabeth Place and Asher Kort from Leawood Middle School. 

Nick Eyen, freshman at Blue Valley North High School and Clark Castro, 6th grader at Leawood Middle School.

I was pleased to carry my first bill on the Senate floor, SB 57, which is a fairly easy bill to require candidates filing for office to provide their email addresses as well as that of their campaign’s treasurer. This will make it much easier for the Ethics Commission to communicate.

Senate District 11 Resources:

Demographic Profile
Kansas Legislature
Kansas Cash (find your unclaimed property)
Register to Vote
Vote by Mail

In the News
The biggest news of the week is my work – with 23 colleagues – to reverse the disastrous 2012 tax breaks for LLC and S-corp businesses (details below in “On the Floor”). This is certainly the most well-known part of the tax restoration plan. Because previous legislatures have allowed more than 350,000 of these businesses go income tax-free since 2013, the rest of us have had to pay more in sales and property taxes. This week I kept my campaign commitment to restore tax fairness for all Kansans.
Why can’t the budget hole be filled with further cuts? We’ve cut so far and so fast that even the firm hired to find efficiencies said we’ve cut too much. As a result, we’ve been sued for deaths incurred because our corrections facilities are understaffed and our foster care system has improper oversight. We are literally too small to succeed.
This bill is a much-needed course correction to restore the necessary functions of our state government. This was not a perfect bill, nor an easy vote. The bitter pill never is. It takes no courage or intellectual ability to make the easy votes. It’s the hard votes that matter.
The tax bill passed the House and Senate last week, Governor Brownback vetoed the bill Wednesday morning, the House voted to override the veto (85-40), but the Senate fell three votes short (24-16). I voted YES to override the veto.
While I’m frustrated, this gives us another opportunity to create a bill which provides more financial security and hopefully reduce grocery taxes. I would like to see a phasing-out of the tax with an opportunity to reduce them year over year to see how the reductions are impacting revenues. This is what should have been done with the 2012 tax plan – let’s take a bite and see how it goes before eating the whole pie.

On the Floor
The Senate debated its version of the tax bill (SB 188) on Thursday. It failed, so I won’t belabor you the details. Meanwhile the same day, the House passed  HB 2178 on a 76-48 vote. On Friday, the Senate debated, did not amend, and passed the bill on a 22-18 vote. I voted YES.
If signed into law, retroactive to January 1, the bill would have:

  • Repealed the LLC, S-corp, and sole proprietor tax breaks enacted in 2012, which exempted them from most state income taxes;
  • Allowed certain non-wage business income losses starting in tax year 2017;
  • Restored itemized deductions that were repealed by the Legislature in 2015, notably the deduction for medical expenses will once again be 100% deductible;
  • Reduced the lowest income tax bracket to 2.7% for individuals making less than $15K and couples making less than $30K;
  • Established a 5.25% rate for individuals making between $15K and $50K and $30K-$100K for couples; 
  • Restored the third tax bracket for those making more than $50K for individuals and $100K for couples, with a rate of 5.45%; and
  • Eliminated the “March to Zero” scheduled income tax reductions.
The key factor to remember in this plan is that all three tax brackets are lower than they were in 2012.
Income Level Pre- 2012
Tax Rate
Proposed 2017 Tax Rate Net Change
Married under $30,000
Single under $15,000
     3.50%       2.7%    .8% lower
Married $30,000 - $60,000
Single $15,000 - $30,000

    1% lower
Married $60,000 - $100,000
Single $30,000 - $60,000

   1.2% lower
Married over $100,000
Single over $50,000
     5.45%     1% lower

Committee Work
The committee held hearings and passed a number of bills this week:
Currently, $3 of each certificate of title fee collected for repossessed vehicles is credited to the Repossessed Certificates of Title Fee Fund in the Dept of Revenue. SB 88 requires the fees to be retained by the contractor or county treasurer who processed the application.
We heard tragic testimony on SB 74, called Joey’s Law, in honor of Joseph Weber, a young man with autism who was killed after a car chase in which he likely didn’t understand the full extent of the circumstances. The bill allows a new designation on motor vehicle registrations, driver’s licenses, and ID cards that the individual needs assistance with cognition.   
Ethics, Elections, and Local Government
 We held hearings and passed the following bills out of committee last week:
  • Currently, parties or PACs can file an affidavit of exemption instead of periodic receipt and expenditure reports if the PAC raises or spends less than $500 during a calendar year. With the increasing expense of technology alone (think websites and hosting), $500 doesn’t get you very far these days, so SB 81 changes that threshold to $1,000.
  • Appointments to regional library system boards are made by the governor. SB 132 shifts that authority to the State Librarian, subject to approval by the local board of county commissioners.

Ways & Means
SB 161 would change the governor’s allotment authority, requiring the governor, not the State Finance Council, to hear agency appeals to the traditional allotment process. The bill would require the governor to initiate the special allotment process upon certification from the Director of Budget that the estimated unencumbered ending balance of the State General Fund is less than $100 million. This special allotment authority does not apply to the legislative or judicial branches.
Currently, a telecom carrier is not eligible to participate in the KS Lifeline Services Program unless the carrier provides universal service at least partially through its own facilities. SB 119 allows carriers to participate in the program regardless of whether it provides services through its own facilities.

It is an honor to serve you in Topeka. Please do not hesitate to contact me about these or other legislative issues. 

Very truly yours,

John Skubal
Senator, 11th District
913-469-6641 (H)

Copyright © 2017, All rights reserved.

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