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Kansas Legislature
Johnson County Election Office
Register to Vote

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:

First of all, I wish to acknowledge that I have been hearing from you in unprecedented numbers. It makes for a heavier workload overall, but I appreciate all of the input. Most of the contact cannot be returned – certain petitions do not include a return email to the sender for example, but it is important for you to know your voice is being heard.
Thanks to the Shawnee Mission Post for covering the January 28 town hall meeting sponsored by the Johnson County Library and the League of Women Voters. Turnout was big – library officials counted nearly 200 people. Education Finance
If you’re a frequent “Review” reader, you’ve received reports from my attendance at every Supreme Court hearing on the Gannon case, superintendent working groups, task forces, and meetings with a wide variety of Johnson County education officials, parents and advocacy organizations. I have researched how other states fund schools and pored over audits, reports, and spreadsheets. The result of all that time spent thoughtfully gathering information is HB 2270: The Education Finance Act, which I introduced into the K-12 Budget Committee last week.
Despite much lip-service being given to stale talking points that “no one seems to know what the goals are” for adequacy, and that “no one knows how to comply with the Rose Standards,” the KS Department of Education, under the direction of Commissioner Randy Watson, has spent the last two years in a deep analysis regarding the core mission and outcomes Kansans should expect from our public schools, leading to the development of the Kansans CAN Vision for Education:
  • They asked the question “How do we change up the public education system to prepare students to meet the demands of the 21st century, regardless of THEIR next goal (trade, job, college, etc.)?” 
  • This vision was analyzed by the elected KS Board of Education and provided the guidance for the department’s budget request this year. They've given extensive thought to what it will take to fund that vision.
  • Implementing the vision involves creating an Individual Learning Plan for each student, an endeavor that will take more counselors and teachers, investment in new systems of evaluation and more sophisticated technology.
  • The Vision focuses on improving graduation rates by tailoring programs to suit the needs and goals of each student, whether they wish to move on to traditional 4-year university, military service or the job market. 
HB 2270 reflects two years of research and collaboration activities as listed above and the best elements of the funding mechanism in place prior to block grants, with some modernization and restructuring. The overwhelming consensus is we need a funding formula that starts with a per-pupil amount and adds to that enhanced funding tied to certain characteristics. That's what this formula does and more. Highlights of the plan include:
  • Full funding for all-day K
  • Enhanced funding for early childhood programs
  • Targeted funding for populations with high needs
  • Additional funds for overall operations so schools CAN innovate, attract and retain high quality teachers
  • Providing the resources deemed necessary for the state Department of Education to implement the Kansans CAN vision 
The bill will have a hearing on Wednesday, February 15 and I look forward to continuing the conversation across the state about our hopes and dreams for our children’s futures. 
Fiscal Issues
Thursday, the House Taxation Committee passed a comprehensive tax package out of committee by a vote of 13-9. Substitute for HB 2178 includes the following policy provisions, retroactive to January 1, 2017:
  1. Reinstates income taxes on LLCs, sole proprietors and S-corp businesses (“LLC Fix”)
    • Restores claims for non-wage business losses to conform with federal standards
  2. Removes income tax trigger mechanism, the so-called “March to Zero”
  3. Reinstates medical expense deductions at 100% (cut to 50% in 2015)
  4. Reinstates a third tax bracket:
    • Pre-2012, the top tier for married couples was >$60,000
    • 2017 proposal creates top tier for married couples earning >$100,000
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
Projections for the revenue raised with this plan are as follows:
FY 18: $590.2 million
FY 19: $453.8 million
FY 20: $458.6 million
FY 21: $463.4 million
FY 22: $468.2 million
Substitute HB 2178 represents exactly the type of comprehensive tax reform I have been asking for over the past several years. This is a significant development, happening on the very same day that Senate debate on a 5% across the board budget cut for schools and other state agencies was cancelled due to lack of Senate support.

While nobody likes tax increases, it is vitally important to stabilize our state finances with a long-term structural fix that allows us to fund our statutory obligations and right-size our state government. Depending on borrowed funds, fee sweeps, delayed payments to the KPERS retirement system and other short-term gimmicks has decimated our state credit rating and saddled our citizens with a huge amount of long-term debt with very little to show for it all. Supporting good public schools, maintaining high quality roads, protecting public safety and providing a myriad of other services requires proper manpower and infrastructure. We have been so busy cutting resources that we have lost sight of the value of proper investment, costing us much more in the long run.
While some call for budget cuts rather than tax increases, the truth of the matter is that under this governor, as a State we:
  • Cut the state budget 9 times,
  • Employ 2,816 fewer state employees, and
  • Held total spending increases to 1%.
While at the same time: 
  • The number of students in our schools increased,
  • The human services caseloads increased by $144 million (7.1%) between 2012-2016, and
  • The cost of doing business increased with inflation.
State agencies are under duress, and staffing shortages are endangering lives. 
This plan restores tax fairness by returning 350,000 Kansans to the tax rolls. Reinstating an income tax on LLCs and other business entities broadens the base and eases the burden on all Kansas taxpayers. Although this represents a slight increase in rates for certain taxpayers over last year, the actual income tax rates will remain a full percentage point lower than the rates in place pre-2012. The net effect is that the overall income tax burden will remain lower than before the 2012 tax plan took effect, ranging from 22.8% lower for the lowest wage earners to 15.5% lower for the highest earners. We have a very long way to go in the process before we know what the final package looks like, but moving this plan out of the House Tax Committee is a good first step. I look forward to working this bill on the floor of the House. We will be very busy over the next two weeks as we head towards the halfway mark in the session, known as Turnaround. I will keep you posted as news develops. 
If you have questions, comments or need help please contact me at 785-296-7686 or via email at If you are in Topeka, please stop by my office in 352-S. It is my pleasure to serve.


Rep. Melissa Rooker
Kansas State Representative, District 25
Serving Northeast Johnson County
Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved.
Melissa Rooker,