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Dear Friend: 

The legislature adjourned on Friday, May 4th, which was also Sine Die, with more than a little bit of drama as we had some very tough votes, including finalizing the budget for next year.  The good news is we are on the right path to a sustainable state budget and economic stability.  We have restored Kansas’s credit rating from “negative” to “stable” as noted in the S & P Global ratings.  This is excellent news for our businesses and for our state’s fiscal health. 
If you’re looking for a reason to be optimistic in today’s political climate, look no further than the Kansas House of Representatives. Though DC seems to be imploding, we in the Kansas House have made measurable and pragmatic steps, working together for the greater good (in most cases). I’m proud to be part of this group that’s dedicated to making sure we keep Kansas going in the right direction. 

Last year we passed the two-year budget plan, but like in your home, as revenues and expenses change, we must amend that budget to reflect those changes. This year’s supplemental budget had the benefit of last year’s tax plan, meaning we could begin to restore funding to basic government services that suffered in recent years by chronic underfunding: higher education, the elderly and disabled, foster care, corrections, and state employee pay. It is a gradual process, but we could make investments this year in these areas, plus we were able to put money toward our state water plan and early childhood programs. House Substitute for Senate Bill 109 passed the Senate, 26-14, and the House, 98-23. I voted yes.

Contact Rep. Karleskint
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300 SW 10th, Room 512-N
Topeka, KS 66612

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Key components: 
  • 5% raise for state employees not included in last year’s raise and 2.5% for those who were. Last year’s raises were focused on bringing judicial branch employees up from their 49th-in-the-country ranking in pay. 
  • $15 million for higher education to begin to restore the cuts made in 2014 and 2015.
    • KU: $2.6 million
    • KSU: $1.9 million
      • KSU Extension: $845,506
      • KSU Vet School: $284,069
    • KU Medical School: $2.1 million
    • Fort Hays: $637,554
    • Emporia State: $536,405
    • Pittsburg State: $640,281
    • Wichita State: $1.4 million
  • Early Childhood: $1 million for Tiny-K, known as Infant-Toddler Services, $4.2 million for a Pre-K Pilot project, and $1 million for Parents As Teachers
  • $22 million to increase nursing home Medicaid reimbursement rates.
  • $5.5 million for the foster care “kinship” program, which would increase payments to family members serving as foster care providers from $3 per day to $10 per day. 
As with most bills done in a hurry and/or late at night, the education bill passed at the end of the regular session in early April, while included an $80 million drafting error, deeply impacting dozens of districts across the state. House Substitute for Senate Bill 61 was an attempt to resolve this allocation labeling problem. While far from perfect, we needed to get this “fix” to the court ASAP. The bill passed the Senate, 31-8, and the House, 92-27. I voted yes. 

Key policy components: 
  • Requires districts to have at least a 15% Local Option Budget, and that those monies are to be considered part of the state’s investment toward adequate funding (even though the court already said local money is local money and the state constitution requires the state to provide suitable funding). 
Key funding components: 
  • Increases per pupil spending by $548 over the next six years (2018-2023). 
  • Beginning in 2024, funding increases would be tied to the average percentage increase of the Consumer Price Index during the preceding three school years. 
As a member of the K-12 Budget Committee, we worked hard to find a solution that would meet constitutional muster and get the required 63 House votes, 21 Senate votes and 1 vote from the governor. The bill passed provided the best ideas that could garner the required votes and for that, I remain guardedly optimistic that House Substitute for Senate Bill 423, along with the trailer bill, will be ruled constitutional. Oral arguments are scheduled to begin on May 22.

Currently, religious based charities with sincerely held religious beliefs can provide foster and adoption services and decide who they will foster pr adopt to because they're a private organization and public dollars are not involved. Kansas Catholic Charities is a good example as they provide a number of programs across the state. Without the ability to contract with the state for these services, it has become financially unsustainable for their work to continue. It is better for every Kansas kid to have more outlets for foster and adoption rather than fewer. The bill passed the Senate, 24-15, and the House, 63-58, I voted yes on the bill and the governor also signed this bill into law. 

On the last day of the session, Friday, May 4th in the middle of the afternoon, the House took up a tax bill that previously had not been heard in committee. This bill made several changes regarding the following: 
  • itemized deduction options for taxpayers, provisions related to expensing,
  • the acceleration of certain itemized deductions and language regarding the tax treatment of repatriation,
  • global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI),
  • the Eisenhower Foundation tax credit,
  • income tax exemptions under the Rural Opportunity Zone program in certain counties,
  • selected sales tax exemptions, and exemptions for all sales of gold and silver coins and palladium, platinum, gold and silver bullion.
There were several provisions in this bill that I supported, but collectively, the House voted the bill down, largely because of discomfort about changing our tax policy with so much uncertainty and few answers offered for the questions raised.  
I’m looking forward to reviewing the tax code next year after a full year of implementation of the federal changes and from the start of session, not the very last day. It’s irresponsible to pass sweeping policy on the final day that hasn’t been vetted in the committee process. I, along with several of my colleagues in the House and the Senate, suggested it would be wise to have an interim study committee to dissect the federal plan, analyze the impact on our state, learn as much as possible about those federal changes, and then come back in January with solid numbers and recommendations.  

Now that session has concluded, it’s time to think about the upcoming election. It’s been an honor to serve you and I’m pleased to announce I’ve filed to continue to represent you in Topeka. If you would like to support my campaign for re-election to the Kansas House, any donation would be greatly appreciated.  

From day one, I’ve approached my job one way – to be your voice. I’m not there for special interest groups or lobbyist meals. I’m there to advocate for the people in District 42. It’s why I spent all last summer and fall working so hard against the Tyson plant. 

I’d be honored to continue to represent you and hope I can count on your vote in August. Please know I will always be honest and tell you how I voted and I will do my best to respond to your phone calls and emails.  I work for you and I would welcome your support. To donate go to my website. Your support is appreciated.

If you have any questions about legislative activities or want to share your views on any issues, please feel free to email me or call me at home.  The Legislature is not in session and no one is answering the phone in my Capitol office.   

You can email me at: or call me at 785-550-4298.

I look forward to continuing our work together to bring accountability, transparency, and reality-based budgeting to the Kansas Legislature. Please do not hesitate to contact me about these or any other issues facing our state. I am grateful for the honor of representing your voice in Topeka. 

Thank you, 

Rep. Jim Karleskint
Serving rural Leavenworth & Douglas Counties
Copyright © 2018 Paid for by Karleskint for Kansas, Lois Meadows, Treasurer, All rights reserved.