March 12, 2010
Back to Legislative Updates
It is finally all starting to come together and coming to a close as the final budgets are coming out of the sub-committees. At least now we will be able to get a budget together to present to the full committee and then on to the full House for debate. It will not be easy, but the budget must be resolved before we leave for home.
Of course the four biggest challenges that hang over our heads are the uncertainty of what will happen at the Federal level, the revenues that will be flowing in over the next two months (will they be short again?), will there be tax increases to help fill the hole and, finally, can we find money to replace the ARRA money that substituted for the lack of state funding last year?
At this point, it looks like the Senate has basically a 2.5% across the board cut in budgets and an expectation of a tax increase to make up for the rest.
Our budget leadership feels the responsible thing to do is bring out a lean budget without a need for tax increases to fall back on. If the taxes are not passed, we are prepared to cut the needed amount.
The budget process this year has been very challenging and difficult, but there are some good things coming out of it. We are scrutinizing the budgets like never before although that calls for some late night work. We are attempting to validate the need for programs and costs and we are finding some interesting facts. For instance, Kansas still has a State Senator that retired from office many years ago and is still on the payroll as a district manager for the Lottery Commission. I don’t know how his health is, but was surprised to hear he is still around.
Another interesting question has come up! Where is the Director of Racing and Gaming? Has anyone seen him in the last several years? He makes good money for someone who has not appeared in the Capitol for a long time. I hear he has moved his wife to D.C. Will he be back in Kansas anytime soon, or are his checks being forwarded?
A NEW TAX!!
What will they think of next? Well the newest tax on the block is a sugar tax on sweetened drinks. The bill will levy $.01 on every teaspoon of sugar used in drinks. It is a Senate bill, but if they need $300,000,000 in tax increases, it may end up coming to the House. One Senator is talking about selling State office buildings and paying rent to private individuals or corporations. It would be a lot cheaper. State agencies pay $16.78 per square foot to the Department of Administration in order to rent space in State owned buildings. We also pay a rent each month for each phone jack in our offices.
A BED TAX ON NURSING HOMES
HB 2673 has winners and losers and those are divided in my district. It charges some nursing facilities a tax on each bed in the facility in order to match and find more money from the Federal Government. Facilities that house people who have saved for their retirements and are not dependent on Medicaid dollars will have to pay to support those who do not have the resources to pay for themselves. Although, I realize some of my nursing homes will profit from this idea, my conscience cannot condone penalizing those who are independent and want to care for themselves. At this time, it looks likely the bill will pass.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.” Winston Churchill