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Dear Friend: 

The legislature is officially adjourned. It’s nice to have Topeka in my rear view and a sense of accomplishment and relief on my shoulders. While there were dozens of bills discussed during the veto session (May 1 – June 10), the following are the bills I’ve received the most inquiries about within the district.

As you may know, the legislature passed a bill a few years ago allowing guns in public buildings, including hospitals and college campuses beginning July 1, 2017. There were no changes made to the law in regard to guns on college campuses; they’ll be allowed after June 30, 2017. However, the legislature passed a bill and the Governor allowed it to become law continuing the restriction of guns in mental hospitals, public hospitals, long-term care facilities, community mental health centers, and KU Hospital.

School Finance
After several hours of debate, HB 2410, the school finance bill, passed in the House, 84-39, I voted YES. As you know, I was on the school finance committee that spent hours drafting the bill. We’re pleased with the outcome of the policy and the Governor signed it into law yesterday. It is now under review by the Kansas Supreme Court.

The bill is a major overhaul to how the state funds schools:
  • Restores a per-pupil funding formula which is more flexible to meet the changing needs of Kansas students,
  • Adds $180 million this year, and that amount again, plus $100 million next year
  • Funds all-day Kindergarten,
  • Provides $2 million per year for early childhood at-risk programs,
  • Enhances teacher mentoring and professional development opportunities,
  • Provides an accountability mechanism for regular audits to ensure targeted funds are working as designed,
  • Incentivizes school district consolidation, but does not require it. 
Contact Rep. Karleskint
At the Capitol:

300 SW 10th, Room 512-N
Topeka, KS 66612

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In the end, the formula is a good definition of compromise – I’m not happy with some of the additions, but am thrilled with others. If everyone is a little uncomfortable, it’s probably a good middle ground.

Tax Plans
On May 31, we debated an excellent tax bill, which we all had high hopes would pass, but failed by ten votes. Due to about one-third of the House refusing to vote for any taxes and about one-third demanding more taxes than were in the bill, it failed. A week later, the same bill was reconstructed to include tax deductions and credits eliminated since 2012, and it passed both the House (69-52) and Senate (26-14). Hours later, Governor Brownback vetoed it. Immediately the next day, the House (88-31) and Senate (27-13) voted to override the governor’s veto, erasing five years of economic crisis. I voted YES. In sum, the bill:
  • Repeals key components of the 2012 tax plan:
    1. LLC tax break for non-wage income
    2. “March to Zero” scheduled automatic deductions in individual tax rates
  • Restores deductibility of medical expenses, mortgage interest, property taxes paid, and the child and dependent care tax credit.
  • Reinstates three tax brackets:
I don’t take joy in increasing taxes. This was a very difficult vote. However, I promised to help get our state back on solid ground and this bill was critical to stopping the problems we’ve faced since the 2012 Brownback tax experiment. Just days after the bill was enacted, Moody’s moved Kansas’ credit out look from “negative” to “stable,”. They recognized our efforts to stabilize the budget. It’s a good first step!
There’s a lot of discussion about the tax bill being a tax increase. It is. We slashed taxes in 2012 and couldn’t pay our bills. What I voted for is a plan that allows us to pay our bills, but still keeps the rates below what you paid from 1993-2012. When you pay your taxes now, in every case, and for every Kansan, you’ll be paying less than you paid from 1993-2012.
Reaction to our work to overturn the Governor’s experiment has been nationwide. My colleagues have been quoted in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times to the Garden City Telegram, Wichita Eagle, and Shawnee Mission Post:
 Port Authority Bill
I’m pleased to announce that a bill I introduced in Federal & State Affairs Committee in March, as well as carrying it on the floor of the House became law when the Governor signed it on June 9th. The bill will allow the Port Authority of Leavenworth County to sell property below appraised value. The Bill will provide for economic development in the County. Which means jobs, capital investment, and tax revenue for the area. The Leavenworth County Port Authority is currently working with the cities of Tonganoxie and Leavenworth as well as Leavenworth County officials to develop two new business parks that will give the port authority an additional 200 acres to shovel-ready land to promote.

The House and Senate budget negotiators worked for days to develop a compromise between the budgets passed by their respective chambers. The final compromise (S Sub HB 2002) was debated last weekend and like everything I’ve discussed above, isn’t perfect, but it starts us down a path toward solvency:
  • Begins to restore funding to KU and K-State, which bore the brunt of recent cuts.
  • Adds funds for the state’s mental hospitals and senior care,
  • Begins to fund the State Water Plan.
  • Provides 2.5% raises to most state employees – they haven’t seen raises since 2009.
  • Allows the KS Department of Transportation (KDOT) to borrow $400 million to restart T-Works projects delayed to previous legislative sweeps from the roads plan.
The budget passed the House 88-27 and the Senate 27-11, I voted YES. It is awaiting the governor’s signature.
Once the budget was passed, we adjourned until Sine Die (last official day of session) on June 26. After passing the new school finance formula, restructuring the tax code, and passing a budget that puts the state on a firmer footing, Kansas is in a better place. I’m honored to have been able to serve you this session. Look forward to seeing you in the days ahead.
Please continue to reach out to me with your ideas and questions. It’s an honor to serve District 42.

Thank you, 

Rep. Jim Karleskint
Serving rural Leavenworth & Douglas Counties
Copyright © 2017 Paid for by Karleskint for Kansas, Lois Meadows, Treasurer, All rights reserved.

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