As part of my service, I'd like to update our readers on what's going on in Topeka. Kansas 2017 legislative session is well underway, having been sworn in on Jan 9th.
Representing Leavenworth and Fort Leavenworth, I'm on the following committees: Military & Veterans affairs committee to best represent Leavenworth's vested military interests; the new Security & Technology to leverage my background in protecting our citizens; Transportation to represent our economic development interests in infrastructure; and Agriculture to represent our interests in the single biggest economic driver in Kansas.
The Kansas budget crisis is on everyone's minds in the Legislature. In order to balance the immediate budget that was put in place last year for the current year, the State needs to cover approximately $350 Mil that is not currently available with the Governor and former Legislature's tax plan. One can argue why the state is in this bad situation, but more importantly we have to fix it. There are a few proposals on the table.
One option that the Governor has proposed is selling off recurring funds from the Tobacco settlement that are largely dedicated to children's programs. This revenue stream would be 'securitized' and sold off to the highest bidder. This is a one time budget fix and puts important children's fund in severe jeopardy.
Another option being discussed in Topeka is to cut funding across the board by approximately 8%, effective immediately. The second option alone would mean $1.6 Mil from Leavenworth USD 453 and a further half million from Fort Leavenworth's USD 207, according to the Legislative Research Department.
A third option is to current use long term investments and borrow the money on that at an opportunity cost of about $9Mil. Even if people believe we need to spend less overall, for this immediate need, the best option appears to be the one time use of long term funds versus drastic cuts to our hospitals and schools in the current school year.
Keep in mind, no tax increase nor removal of current LLC tax exemptions will fix this very near term budget problem because the funds would not appear in time. Those types of options are definitely on the table to solve the structural budget issues Kansas now finds itself in.