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RESOURCES

Kansas Legislature
Johnson County Election Office
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Communities of the
25th District

Fairway
Mission
Mission Hills
Mission Woods
Prairie Village
Roeland Park
Westwood
Westwood Hills

CONTACT MELISSA

In Topeka: 
State Capitol Room 352-A
Topeka, KS 66612
melissa.rooker@house.ks.gov
785-296-7686

At home in Fairway
4124 Brookridge Drive
Fairway, KS 66205
melissa@melissarooker.com
913-961-1555

Dear Friend:

After a four-day break designed to temporarily stop legislative pay and allow time to regroup ahead of the final push, we returned to Topeka after Memorial Day to continue work on several key issues.
 
I spoke with many of you about the issues facing Kansas during last fall's campaign, during the legislative session, and most recently while I was home over the Memorial Day weekend. The level of frustration was palpable and the message very clear: balance the budget, roll back the governor's tax cuts and fund our schools.  
 
The last several weeks of the legislative session were a frustrating but necessary first step in restoring fiscal sanity to our state, putting an end to the governor's tax experiment, and constitutionally funding our schools. While this was a big step in the right direction, this was simply a start.  There is still much work to be done, but we made major headway in the areas of K-12 Education Finance, Tax, and Budget Reform. 

K-12 Education Finance
The House engaged in a nearly five-hour debate on Sub HB 2410, our school finance plan. This bill creates a new school finance formula and adds new money to K-12 schools. I provided an overview of the school finance plan in my last newsletter
 
I submitted an explanation of vote for the record and was joined by a number of colleagues:

The bill was added to a Senate bill (SB 19) in conference committee to speed up the process. The conference committee report was debated and passed by the House (67-55) and Senate (23-17). The bill arrived on the governor’s desk for his consideration on June 9th. His options are to sign it into law, veto it, or wait 10 days and allow it to become law without his signature. 
 
Tax Reform
In early June, the House debated a new tax plan that would have covered the current budget proposal, including the increased spending in the school finance bill discussed above. This proposal fell ten votes shy of passage in the House. While some of my colleagues continued to call for budget cuts rather than revenue increases, another group decided that compromise on anything short of full repeal of the 2012 tax plan was not good enough. We were at impasse.
 
The damage done since 2012 has far-reaching consequences and was accomplished in a series of tax breaks made in 2012, 2013 and 2015 combined. The Kansas economy was not broken overnight, nor can it be repaired overnight (even with full repeal).
 
Working together, a coalition of pragmatic thinkers in both the House and the Senate negotiated a new tax plan (SB 30) that will fund our budget, cover the increases to education, and make paying back KPERS the first priority with ending balances.
 
The components of the bill include:
  1. Reinstates a 3-tier income tax code
  • Removes the “March to Zero” triggers (schedule of future income tax rate cuts)
  • Reverses the so-called “LLC Loophole”
  • Restores medical expense deduction (current law = 0%):
    • 50% for tax year 2018
    • 75% for 2019
    • 100% in 2020 and beyond
  • Restores deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes paid (current law = 50%):
    • 75% for tax year 2019
    • 100% in 2020 and beyond
  • Child & dependent care tax credit (repealed in 2012):
    • 12.5% for tax year 2018
    • 18.75% for 2019
    • 25% in 2020 and beyond
The bill passed both chambers and went to the governor on June 5th. He promptly vetoed it, setting up another standoff with the legislature. I was relieved when the House and Senate promptly overrode the veto 88-31 and 27-13, respectively.
 
Raising taxes is never an easy decision but this bill is a badly needed first step toward repairing the damage done to the Kansas economy in the last few years. It will allow us to restore stability to the state budget and improve funding for our schools.
 

Budget Reform
We debated our budget in the House June 8th, and have taken steps to shore up the retirement system, add funds for state mental hospitals, KU and K-State (which bore a disproportionate share of the budget cuts in the past few years), senior care, the state water plan and other critical needs in our state budget. State employees who have gone without a raise since 2009 will finally see an increase. The budget conference committee burned the midnight oil for several nights, reconciling the differences between House and Senate budget provisions.
 
I am confident in our ability to begin reinvesting in the core services and infrastructure that Kansans value as we move past crisis and begin to recover. For historical reference, I have provided the
budget profile and fiscal note for the 2012 tax plan. The vote this week reverses the worst of that policy and levels the playing field for Kansas taxpayers. Rates are still lower than they were before 2012, standard deductions for medical expenses, mortgage interest, property taxes and the child care tax credit are phased back in, the "March to Zero" triggers are removed from the tax code and the so-called "LLC Exemption" is repealed. As soon as the legislature succeeded in overriding the veto, Moody’s improved their credit outlook for Kansas from “negative” to “stable.”
 
As for the debate over state spending, let me provide some context:
  • Between 2012 and 2017 under conservative leadership, this administration eliminated nearly 3,000 FTE (full time equivalent) positions in state government.
  • Spending for general government purposes (discretionary spending) has been reduced from $1.02 billion in 2012 to $869 million in 2017.
  • Between budget cuts, allotments and rescission bills, our state budget has been cut nine times to cope with the shortfalls.
  • State payments were delayed, fee funds were swept clean to pay general fund bills, the state's ending balance disappeared, and our bond ratings fell. 
We have much work to do in the years to come, but this is a responsible and necessary step in the right direction.
 
Reaction has been nationwide, my colleagues and I were featured in papers across the country:
I wish to thank you for your strong support. Our work this session represented a perfect storm of issues to solve, difficult decisions to be made, and consensus building that meant compromises on matters important to me personally were required. Each day as I walk through the Capitol, I pass this sign in the Visitor’s Center:
We each arrive with ideas regarding our preferred policy solutions, but working through the process requires shared ideas, and the resolution of competing interests in order to cross the finish line. I appreciate the faith you've placed in me to represent your interests in Topeka. The situation will continue to evolve and I rely on your engagement in the process to inform my work in Topeka. Please keep in touch.
If you have questions, comments or need help please contact me at 785-296-7686 or via email at Melissa@MelissaRooker.com. If you are in Topeka, please stop by my office in 352-S. It is my pleasure to serve.

Sincerely,

Rep. Melissa Rooker
Kansas State Representative, District 25
Serving Northeast Johnson County
Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved.
Paid for by Rooker for State Representative, Sheila Davis, Treasurer,