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Dear Friend:

After five months of deliberation and debate we have made a historic turn toward correcting the structural imbalance in our state finances. Moderate and Conservative Republicans, and Democrats (88 votes in the house and 27 votes in the Senate) came together on Tuesday this week, finally deciding it had to be done. Speaker Ron Ryckman stated quite succinctly after the vote that it was simply “time to provide certainty for Kansas.”
Reaction to this historic shift was noted nationwide, with quotes from my colleagues featured in the Washington Post and New York Times to the Garden City Telegram, Shawnee Mission Post and Wichita Eagle:

While we are relieved and possibly even elated that we finally got the task accomplished, we should not be happy about raising anyone’s taxes. To be clear, we restored taxes to pay debts accumulated in prior legislative sessions; and, to fund education and KPERS. We are leaving behind the one-time fixes and the “borrow and spend” mentally that has dominated the narrative over the past five years. 

It was an exhausting and yet exhilarating few days with both chambers spending days debating and killing other plans, only to return to this one (SB 30), the same plan we killed last week (which I also supported). After a week of bipartisan communication with many of our colleagues in the House we crafted a plan that would earn additional support.

About the 28th District

Contact Joy

At the Capitol: 
Room 268

At home in Leawood:
3310 W. 137th St
Leawood, KS 66224

Voter Resources

Legislative Information

The Legislature (particularly the House Appropriations Committee) has gone to great lengths to cut spending and curb the size and scope of state government.  Some of the areas that have been cut include:

  • Spending for general government purposes (which excludes Medicaid, Education and KPERS) has been reduced by over $140 million from $1.02 billion in 2012 to $869 million in 2017;
  • SGF receipts have fallen by $265 million from $6.245 billion in 2012 to $5.980 billion in 2017;
  • Entitlement expenditures (Human Services Caseloads) increased approximately $144 million;
  • The Legislature has eliminated nearly 3,000 FTE positions from 2012 to 2017; and
  • The Legislature has eliminated numerous state agencies including the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation, Kansas Inc., Kansas Parole Board, Animal Health Department, State Conservation Commission, Kansas Arts Commission as well as the Kansas Bioscience Authority.

Even with more cuts (and there will be more cuts), the state budget gap is projected to be $900 million over two years ($450 million annually). All of this because we chose to protect more than 350,000 Kansans from paying any state income taxes. That’s not fair. All our employees (at our firm) pay state income taxes. As business owners, why shouldn’t we? We use the same roads, rely on the same police and fire departments, and need the great schools from which to draw our recruits. 

No one wants to raise taxes and certainly we don’t want to pay more in taxes, yet we do want to enjoy the benefits: well-educated citizens, safe communities, and roads that make transporting people and commerce faster and easier. It is how we create community and a civil society. Restoring fiscal responsibility to our state is the right thing to do and will require more of us to pay more taxes to make up for those who have been not paid in recent years. 

SB 30 does several important things:
  • Reverses the LLC exemption that had been in place since 2013;
  • Stops the march to zero;
  • Restores fiscal stability to our state budget;
  • Adequately funds schools in Kansas as well as other core services.
It will also bring back several deductions and tax credits:
Medical Expenses – The bill will allow a 50.0 percent deduction for medical expenses for 2018 and the amount would increase to 75.0 percent in 2019 and 100.0 percent in 2020.  Under Governor Brownback, the medical expense deduction was repealed in 2015.
Child and Dependent Tax Care Credit – The bill will reestablish the credit and it would be set at 12.50 percent of the allowable federal amount for 2018, 18.75 percent for 2019 and 25.00 percent for 2020 and thereafter.  25.00 percent is the rate that had been utilized prior to the repeal in 2012.
Mortgage Interest and Property Taxes – The bill will increase itemized deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes paid, currently set at 50.0 percent of the federal allowable amounts, to 75.00 percent for 2019 and 100.00 percent in 2020.
Low-Income Exclusion Threshold – The bill will reduce the low-income exclusion threshold from $12,500 to $5,000 for married filers and from $5,000 to $2,500 for single filers. 
Star Bond Program – The bill will extend the Sales Tax & Revenue (STAR) Bond program where districts are created that keep their sales tax revenue from the district to pay down bonds for economic development projects. The compromise included a 1-year moratorium on new projects, but allows existing districts to continue development.
Included below are the individual income tax brackets, married filing jointly and revenue projections. As you will note the tax rates in the current bill are lower than income tax rates from 1992 – 2012
Kansas’ new tax structure is not perfect. It doesn’t have everything I wanted and includes provisions I opposed. That is the epitome of compromise. Most importantly, the bill restores tax fairness for all Kansans.
Today on the House floor we will debate the budget bill for 2017, 2018, and 2019. It will be the first time in five years that members of the House will have an opportunity to debate a full budget. So, you’ll hear from me again in a few days. Stay tuned.
Warm regards,

Representative Joy Koesten, PhD
Kansas House District 28
Serving Leawood and Overland Park

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Copyright © 2017 Paid for by Joy for Kansas, Bob Regnier, Treasurer, All rights reserved.

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