Tag Archives: kansas legislature

Fiscal Responsibility


Fiscal responsibility means managing resources effectively and investing for the future. Kansas’s experiment with the trickle-down theory did not work , and it put the state $7.1 billion in debt.  It is time to create an equitable tax structure which takes care of the state’s needs and allows Kansas to pay back the money it has borrowed from the pension funds and the highway funds.

Kansas has borrowed $3.2 billion from KDOT and has been unable repay it. This means we have not had money to invest in new roads, and the infrastructure we have is suffering from deferred maintenance. How can our cities and businesses function with decaying and crumbling infrastructure?

Our citizens’ health is another asset which Kansas has not managed responsibly. Our failure to expand Medicaid has deprived the state of $3.1 billion, which is mostly our money since we paid it in federal taxes. But the greater cost is that 150,000 of our citizens do not have health insurance. This has greatly hurt our hospitals and medical care providers who are often not paid for their services, particularly in rural areas which have seen hospitals and clinics close.

One of the best investments we can make in our future is to educate our children and young adults. The state did not have money to adequately and equitably fund our schools or our universities, leading to devastating budget cuts. The social costs of poor education often show up as increase costs in welfare and our penal system.

Kansas needs to develop a tax structure which will fund our needs, allow investments in our future, and pay off the debts we have accumulated. On a positive note, the Governor has just appointed bipartisan leadership for a committee to study the entire tax structure.

We Must Make Taxes Equitable

In 2012, the Kansas Legislature eliminated Kansas individual income taxes on business income earned by pass-through entities such as sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, and S-corps.  The rationale was that the businesses would use the money to create more jobs and stimulate the economy. It did create jobs for attorneys and accountants, as the 191,000 small businesses it was to help soon proliferated into 330,000 exemptions as businesses rushed to restructure so as to take advantage of the tax break.

The tax cuts did not stimulate the economy as hoped as many companies did not use the money from the pass-through tax cuts to create jobs. The tax cuts did cause a hole in the Kansas budget which grew by about $70 million each month as time went by, eventually reaching $7.1 billion.  Rather than rescind the tax cuts, the legislature  borrowed against KDOT funds, which  cost the state about 80,000 high-paying construction jobs. It also made cuts to programs which actually create jobs, such as in public service, education, and healthcare.

In 2015, the legislature tried to fill the budget hole by passing the largest tax increase in the state’s history. The increases fell mostly on low-income workers and their families, demanding more from those least able to shoulder a higher share of the cost of funding schools, roads, and hospitals.  The 2015 tax increase raised cigarette taxes and sales taxes, increased fees for many government services, and eliminated some tax deductions for property tax and mortgage interest payments. Governor Brownback’s budget director made the case for sales tax hikes by warning that refusal to do so would force another round of stiff cuts to schools funding, Medicaid reimbursements, and criminal justice. Kansas sales taxes are now the 8th highest in the nation and low income workers must pay a larger share of their income to buy necessities and food.

Together, the 2012 tax cuts and 2015 tax increases drove tax rates up for the poorest 20 percent of Kansans, slightly reduced the tax liabilities for middle-class earners, and gave about $20,000 a year back to the richest taxpayers. Does that sound equitable?

Finally, in August of  2017, the Kansas Legislature overrode a veto by Gov. Sam Brownback and did away with the LLC loophole. The Legislature also increased Kansas income taxes to form a more equitable tax structure and put the state on a firmer financial basis. However, no provisions were made to repay KDOT or the KPERS funds.

On a positive note, the 2019 budget had a small surplus though it did not pay back most of the money borrowed in the past. This summer, the Governor and the leaders of the House and Senate plan to meet and examine the entire tax structure. The Governor has now appointed  bipartisan leadership for the panel,

We Must Properly Fund Our Schools


Kansas has always been known for its excellent schools. One reason is that  school funding is provided for in the Kansas Constitution which says : “the legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state.” Kansas schools are a bargain for the taxpayer as Kansas schools rank eighth in the nation in quality while the seven states above Kansas all spend more per pupil than Kansas does. Much of the success is due to the quality and commitment of teachers and educators in Kansas. We must see that they are paid adequately for their services and, just as important, that their services are recognized and appreciated.

Equitable: Kansas’ laws require that school funding be  both equitable and adequate. In 1973, the legislature passed the School District Equalization Act (SDEA)to ensure that students in districts with a low tax base would have as much chance at a quality education as those from richer districts. It also provided property tax relief for districts with a small tax base. The state picks up more of the cost of those schools according to a school funding formula designed to ensure equity. In a challenge to the SDEA in 1992, the court ruled “the duty owed by the Legislature to each child is to furnish him or her with an educational opportunity equal to that owed every other child.”

Inexplicably, in 2015 the Legislature decided to abandon the school funding formula and use a block grant system to fund schools.  That created a Constitutional crisis which could have resulted in the schools being closed. That was resolved in a special session in June where the Legislature came up with $39 million to address the equity issue to the court’s satisfaction.

Adequate: The court was also not satisfied with the adequacy of the funding. In 2018,  lawmakers added $548 million be phased into the state’s $4 billion education budget over the next four years. The court ruled that that was not adequate as it did not allow for inflation. To address that issue, the 2019 legislature added another $90 million per year over the next three years. After that, school funding will  be adjusted annually for inflation by using the CPI. The court accepted this as adequate, and the Gannon school funding lawsuit is for now settled. The court maintained jurisdiction in the case to be sure the Legislature followed through on the funding in future budgets.

Higher education has also been hit by budget cuts. State funding for higher education in Kansas has decreased by 8.6 percent, or nearly $100 million, since 2007-08. In  2016, $16 million was cut from higher education to close a budget gap for that fiscal year. In 2017, a 4% across-the-board budget cut further reduced the higher education budget by another $30.7 million. The 4% percent cut was unwise as it was based,  not just on the state’s support, but on the  schools’ total operating budgets. This cut even more from  the state’s research schools, i.e., KSU, KU, the University of Kansas Medical Center, and the KSU Veterinarian School. This year,  the 2019 Legislature approved an increase of $34.4 million for higher education. That is certainly a step in the right direction but it still does not make up entirely for previous budget cuts.

Kansas’s future: Cuts to colleges and research facilities are never wise. Where will the new ideas come from to improve Kansas’s competitiveness and economy? The Legislature even sold off the Biosciences Research Facility which was to make Kansas a leader in bioscience and genetics research. If we do not fund our colleges properly, where will we get our next generation of scientists, engineers, teachers, business leaders, and entrepreneurs? And, will our next generation of college students b prepared if we do not fund K-12 education properly?

Excellence: Equitable and adequate school funding are not really enough. The Legislature  must make it a priority  that education funding is not only adequate, but at a level to ensure excellence.

Kansas Must Pay Back KPERS

In 2014, Kansas reduced it its contribution to KPERS, the state’s pension system, by $40.7 million. It did this by dropping the employer contribution rate to 9.5 percent from 12.1 percent. KPERS, at that time,  had an unfunded pension liability of $7.4 billion which, before cuts, was projected to go down to zero over the next 20 years.The cut did not affect payments to current retirees, but it meant  that the state wouldn’t be able to pay all it owes in future pensions.

On May 1, 2016, Kansas decided it would delay another $92.6 million in KPERS payments. The money was to to be repaid no later than Oct. 1 with an 8 percent annual interest, which was KPERS’s average rate of return. On May 03, 2016 Moody’s gave Kansas an issuer rating of Aa2 and revised its outlook to negative. The rating is important as it affects the interest rate at which Kansas bonds are issued. Moody’s  Aa2 rating recognized Kansas’ stable tax base and fundamental economic capacity to balance its budget and fund its pension liabilities. The rating also incorporated the state’s financial shortfalls caused in part by large tax cuts, as well as a long history of underfunding its pension plans. The payment to KPERS was not paid in October of 2016 as promised.

The 2019 Legislature made a great step toward repaying KPERS by passing SB 9, which paid $115 million into the pension fund. That repaid  the $92.6 million payment that was deferred in 2016, but required $13 million in accrued interest. The 2019 Legislature also followed through on a $56 million payment which was promised in 2018. Going forward, these payments will save us millions of dollars in interest and shows the state’s dedication to having a solid pension fund.

KDOT: How to Really Create Jobs (2018 Version)

Many of Kansas’ failed economic  policies were justified as “creating jobs”. They often had the opposite effect. Kansas’ long tradition of good, safe roads and the thousands of jobs necessary to build and maintain them, was crippled by the diversion of funds from KDOT.
In 2010, the Kansas Legislature enacted a  10year highway/transportation program to ensure job growth, economic development, safety and overall prosperity for our state. The  $8 billion, 10 year  program was funded through a variety of sources, including dedicating four– tenths of a cent in state sales tax to the highway fund and bonds.  About half was to maintain the state highways and half was was targeted for transit, air, rail, and transportation infrastructure.
To plug budget holes caused by the 2012 pass-through tax cuts, the state began“temporary borrowing” from state highway funds. That soon turned into seemingly endless transfers from KDOT to shore up the state’s general fund, as shown in the chart. Eventually, the legislature transferred a total of $2.4 billion from KDOT to plug budget holes. Dr. Michael Babcock, from the Department of Economics at Kansas State University, estimated that for each one million in construction value, 41 jobs are created. As a result, the borrowing from KDOT cost about 130,000 good paying Kansas construction jobs.
The dedicated four– tenths of a cent in state sales tax originally generated $570 million for the highway fund. The Legislature has now restored $378 million from sales tax, but that is certainly not adequate. The 2019 Legislature put an extra registration fee on EVs which is expected to raise about $600,000 annually, which is an insignificant amount. It is also not entirely fair as EV owners pay  in other ways such as sales tax on electricity, additional personal property taxes, and a reduction in pollution and its associated costs. The most reasonable way to fund our roads into the future would be to restore the 0.4 cent in sales tax diverted from KDOT. The Legislature should then  add the additional amount necessary to insure good roads, which would come partly from sales taxes and partly from the additional taxes paid by electric vehicle owners.

We Must Expand Medicaid


Thirty-seven states have expanded Medicaid, but Kansas has not. Our failure to expand Medicaid has so far cost Kansas $3.4 billion, which is mostly our money since we paid it in federal taxes. But the greater cost is that 150,000 of our working citizens do not have health insurance. This has greatly hurt our working poor, our hospitals and our medical care providers who are often not paid for their services. This has hit rural areas particularly hard as they do not have the resources to make up for the loss. Rural  hospitals and clinics have been forces to close and it is estimated that 30% more are at risk .

The Alliance for a Healthy Kansas has a plan to expand Kancare, Kansas’ Medicaid program. Federal dollars will pay for 90% of the cost and Kansas will be responsible for 10% of the cost, making it a great bargain. If the plan is adopted:

  • It would provide medical care coverage to 150,000 low-income working Kansans who cannot not afford it. They do have enough income to receive subsidies from the Affordable Care Act but make too much to qualify for the present Kancare system.  It would cover preventive medical care and greatly reduce the spread of communicable diseases.
  • It would inject $5.3 billion into our economy in just the first 10 years.Those funds would have a multiplier effect on consumer spending,  business activity,  jobs,  personal income, and  state tax revenue.
  • It would create jobs. A study by George Washington University found that expanding KanCare would create 3,500 – 4,000 new jobs in the next five years.
  • It would cut the unpaid bills for emergency services.  Emergency room care is very expensive compared to preventive care. Emergency rooms are required by law to treat everyone, and those without medical insurance often wait until they are very sick and then go to the emergency room for care. Unreimbursed costs drive up costs for everyone and endanger the financial stability of medical care providers and hospitals.
  • It would reduce bankruptcies.  Many of us are just one major accident or illness away from a bankruptcy. A Harvard study found that about 50% of all bankruptcies in the United States are caused by illness and unpaid medical bills. Bankruptcies affect everyone because the health providers, banks, businesses, and credit card companies who lose money in the bankruptcy pass the cost on to the rest of us.
  • It would improve everyone’s health. Your family’s health depends on the health of everyone in your community. You and your family will likely come into contact with thousands of people during this next year. People without health insurance are much less likely to receive immunizations and preventative care – and are much more likely to have untreated communicable diseases.

Much of the opposition to expanding Medicaid is related to opposition to the Affordable Care Act. A study by the Brooking Institute found that 37 states who have so far expanded Medicaid are satisfied with results  and none wish to withdraw from the program.

The 2019 House of Representatives passed Medicaid expansion by a vote of 69 to 54, and there were enough votes in the Senate to pass it, but the Senate leadership refused to let it come to the floor for a vote.  The Senate leadership promised that they would have a bill ready for vote in January 2020, and we are hoping their word is good. That delay will cost Kansas about  another $665 million. It is time we tapped into the Federal funds available and made health insurance available to the 150,000 Kansans without medical coverage.

 Gov. Kelly and Sen. Denning met over the summer and put together a compromise Medicaid Expansion bill which had 22 cosponsors in the Senate, more than enough to pass it. However, Senate President Susan Wagle,  who opposes Medicaid expansion,  sent sent it  back to a committee whose chairman is also opposed Medicaid expansion. It would have taken 24 votes to bring it back to the Senate for a vote, and so it died in the the committee.

It is likely the makeup of the Senate will change in the next election, making passage more favorable. Unfortunately, many legislators are now concerned about the federal government paying its share of the cost or that funds from Medicaid expansion might be used for abortions. To get Medicaid Expansion passed in 2021, it will need an amendment which will cancel the program if the federal match falls below 90%, or if  money from is used to fund abortions. 


Cut the Sales Tax on Food

Untitled-food tax 1_8x8

The 2012 tax cuts left a $7.3 billion hole in the Kansas state budget. To make up for it, the legislature passed the largest tax increase in history and even that did not fill the budget hole, as it got deeper every month. The tax increases may have made the economy worse as it took money out of the hands of those who were most likely to spend it.

The worst tax increase was in sales taxes, particularly the increase in tax on food. That took money from the pockets of low income Kansans and those on fixed incomes . It was particularly unfair for senior citizens, as they have been paying income tax all their lives, and now they must pay more for food.

During the 2019 session, the Legislature passed  HB 2033 which would have reduced the sales tax on food about one cent. That proposal was bundled with a sales tax decrease on corporations, an Internet sales tax increase, and a proposal to allow Kansans to itemize deductions on their state form. The governor vetoed the bill and, though almost every legislator supported lowering the sales tax on food, there were not enough votes to override the veto as many people objected to other parts of the bill.

Though the 2019 budget ended up with a small surplus, there was  not enough money to pay the debts we have accumulated, particularly in child and family services, prisons, pension funds, and infrastructure. Once those are paid, the Legislature should work on eliminating the sales tax on food. The 2020 fiscal year will likely end with a budget deficit because of the COVID-19 virus, so  we will be unable to cut the sales tax on food until some future date.

Voter’s Rights


Registering to vote: In 2011, Kansas passed the Secure and Fair Elections Act which stated “newly-registered Kansas voters must prove U.S. citizenship when registering to vote.”  That seemed reasonable since Kansans must provide proof of citizenship  to get a driver’s license or photo ID.  However, the Kansas Secretary of State interpreted the law to mean that voters who register through the DMV or by using the federal form must also submit proof of citizenship to the County election office.

This has created an awkward situation where voters who have not submitted their documentation to the election office may vote in federal elections, but are barred from voting in Kansas elections. The Wichita Eagle estimated  that as many as 50,000 voters may have been affected by this ruling, many of them  young first-time voters. We encourage our young people to be good citizens, yet Kansas has created obstacles to their registering and voting.

This has been very expensive for Kansas. It has created unnecessary paperwork, required creation of a two-tiered voting system, one for federal elections and one for Kansas elections, and led to expensive lawsuits challenging the interpretation of the law. This has also been damaging to the Republican Party, as it is obvious to young voters who is creating the obstacles to their voting. Recent court rulings allow citizens who register using the federal form at ksvotes.org to vote in all state elections. However, the Kansas Secretary of State has not changed the State’s website to be consistent.

Counting votes accurately: During the 2014 election, several candidates who were behind in the polls won their elections. Polls are not votes, but this has caused concern among some Kansans that votes may not have been counted accurately. This could occur by errors in the voting machines, or even possibly hacking. It is possible to determine if the votes were counted accurately by a voting audit, a statistical analysis of the voting tapes produced by the voting machines. Dr. Beth Clarkson, a statistician at WSU, has tried to obtain the tapes to ensure that the votes were counted accurately. However, the Secretary of State opposed this, and has argued successfully that to release the tapes would compromise the privacy of the voter. That is unlikely, as it would would require the voter’s precinct and the exact time to connect a voters name with their vote, something impossible to do.

The legislature is working on legislation to require a random audit of voting machines to assure voters that their votes are accurately counted. That is encouraging. The Kansas Legislature must act to ensure that there are not obstacles to registration and voting, and to assure voters that their votes are accurately counted.

Kansas Must Develop Its Renewable Energy Resources

windmillsWe must develop our renewable energy resources for health reasons, economic reasons, and environmental reasons.

Health reasons: The American Lung Association estimates that there are 26,000 deaths and 1.5 million cases of acute bronchitis and aggravated asthma caused by small particulates, much of it emitted from coal-fired power plants and from coal ash disposal. They estimate the economic benefits of reduced exposure to particulates alone could reach as much as $281 billion annually. Recently, fine particles have been implicated as a cause of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and new research has revealed a troubling link between mental illness and air pollution that seems to particularly effect children.

Economic reasons: Besides reducing health care costs, a switch to renewable energy will help keep our future electric rates low. Wind and solar are falling in cost and are now competitive with energy from coal-fired power plants. Recently AEP/PSO in Oklahoma purchased 800 MW of wind energy saying the cost was now less than building new coal fired plants, and that the purchase will save an estimated $53 million in the first year and even more thereafter. Kansas currently has 27,000 jobs in the clean energy sector. Of those jobs 75% are in wind energy, and are growing at a rate of 2.3% per year.  By the end of 2019, 36% of Westar’s retail electricity will come from the wind.

Environmental reasons: Coal is 65 to 95 % carbon. What about the rest? Burning coal releases mercury, chromium, lead, cadmium, arsenic, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide,  particulates, and radioactive isotopes. Burning  coal releases millions of tons of pollutants into the air and leaves several hundred million tons behind in the coal ash. Some pollutants stay in the air and others eventually find their way into the water, the food chain, and into us. For comparison, mercury is 100 times as toxic as cyanide, arsenic is 20 times as toxic, and chromium(VI) is 4 times as toxic. These three are also are carcinogenic and accumulate in tissue. Even exposure below the allowed levels increases the chance of cancer over time. The sulfur, nitrogen oxides, and carbon dioxide released by coal combustion harm plants, produce acid rain, and increase the greenhouse gas concentrations. Switching to renewable energy would greatly reduce these  pollutants and help preserve the environment for future generations.

Summary: Investing in clean energy protects the environment, reduces death and disease from air pollution, and creates good, local jobs. Kansas must develop policies to encourage the development of renewable energy investments and energy conservation. Our energy needs will best be served by a mixture of traditional and alternate energy sources, and Kansas must be proactive in developing our renewable energy resources.


Representative Don Hineman, former Republican Majority Leader

Dr. Surendra Singh, Professor Emeritus at Newman University

Kansans for Life

Kansas Agri Business Council


Kansas Realtors PAC

The Sierra Club

Former Republican Governors Mike Hayden and Bill Graves



Wichita Eagle :

Moore dedicated

With a sense of greatest respect and confidence, I would like to endorse GOP candidate J.C. Moore to represent the people of Kansas House District 93. I have known Moore for more than three decades as a close friend and colleague at Newman University.

Moore is known for his passion to help students succeed, his warmth, kindness and generosity of spirit. His masterful teaching and academic advising skillfully guided his students into careers serving their communities as physicians, teachers, scientists and allied health professionals. Since retiring, he has decided to devote his time to representing the people of Haysville, Clearwater, Cheney, Viola, and surroundng areas in the Legislature.

Moore is a person of integrity, honesty and foresight. He is determined to restore fiscal responsibility to Kansas, fund education properly and provide health care through expanded KanCare. His utmost concern is to provide education to children and young adults by procuring adequate funds for our schools and universities.

I enthusiastically endorse J.C. Moore to represent District 93.


Women for Kansas (Nonpartisan)                                                                          “A” rating
Moore caring, competent

I have known J.C. Moore for decades to be a caring, competent individual, consistent in his commitment to the Kansas community.Kansas is struggling with severe economic difficulties that have led to a deterioration in our educational and health care systems, and a shifting of taxes to the middle class and poor, as well as continuing to under fund our pension system.With his scientist’s grasp of facts and figures and his willingness to problem solve without being trapped by rigid ideologies, he will effectively work with individuals of both parties to address these issues. To me, he exhibits a quiet spirituality in his steadfast concern for the common good, and will be a breath of fresh air in our state Legislature.— Dr. Charles A Gaynor, Bel Aire

Endorsements: Time for change 
Wichita Eagle Letter:
Moore excellent

I would like to call your attention to an excellent candidate who is running for the Kansas House. J.C. Moore has a wealth of what we need to bring to the Legislature at this time. Namely, common sense, decency and an interest in the common good of the state of Kansas.

Moore is a highly educated scientist and professor with a sense of the common touch. He has come out of retirement to serve the state and try to improve our very poor performance in the past few years.

As a board-certified children’s vision specialist, I have particular interest in his intention to expand Medicaid in Kansas. We have lost more than $1 billion by our ideological opposition to aiding the poorest Kansans with basic health care. This is foolish in every way. If Moore is elected, he will seek to rectify the situation.