Just six weeks into the 2017 legislative session we had the opportunity to vote on real revenue reform for Kansans. On Wednesday (2/16), the bill passed under General Orders with 83 voting in favor and 39 opposing. On Thursday (2/17), the bill passed on Final Action with 76 voting in favor and 48 opposing. Some legislators changed their votes on Thursday because they believed the tax bill didn’t do enough to solve the problem. Others held fast with their original “no” vote because they believed we had “failed” the people of Kansas by raising taxes instead of cutting more spending. The majority saw that this bill moved us toward the goal post, even if it’s only the first down.
Today the Senate voted in favor of HB 2178, with no amendments. Twenty-two voted in favor of the bill, 18 opposed it. It now goes to the Governor's desk, so our state's fate is now in his hands.
After years of watching our state struggle due to bad tax policy, HB 2178 situates income tax rates below 2012 levels across all income levels, but puts us back on a path to find fiscal stability for our state. The bill restores the medical exemption so our seniors and those with major medical expenses aren’t forced to pay more. The bill also removes the “march to zero” triggers that would have been disastrous for our state. All the while raising enough revenues to protect our schools and core functions.
You sent me to Topeka to stand up to the status quo and get our state back on track. And, that’s exactly what this plan does. This is the first step toward undoing the fiscal mess that Sam Brownback and his cronies brought to Kansas.
This isn’t a Republican issue, or a Democrat issue. This is a Kansas issue. And, Kansans have said time and time again they don’t like their government picking winners and losers. This plan restores fairness in our tax code so that everyone pays their fair share.
This bill was also a vote for our schools. After the Senate unveiled its plan to cut $150 million from education, we said enough is enough. The House plan establishes the structural fix we need to protect the quality of our schools, stop endangering lives at our state hospitals, and reform the integrity of our foster care system. This tax bill is a fair, stable and reliable fix that will right the ship instead of just patching a leak.
While HB 2178 was an easy vote for me, HB 2161 (selling off long term investments for short term gain) and HB 2052 (appropriations) were not. Cleaning up the mess left by those who came before me is an ugly endeavor and we are left with few good options. Going forward, it’s important to keep our eye on the ball to ensure that we win the long game.
Please stay engaged during this important legislative session and don't hesitate to reach out to me with your questions or concerns. During the session I might not be as quick to reply as I normally would, but I will respond. That's a promise.
Joy has blogged extensively about her experience and activities in the legislature and beyond.