State Budget Concerns Dominate Legislative Coffee In Osborne (AUDIO)

District 36 Kansas State Senator Elaine Bowers and 109th District Representative Troy Waymaster held a legislative coffee in Osborne at the Circle Inn Restaurant on Tuesday. About a dozen community members were on hand for the event hosted by Farm Bureau. The legislators took comments and fielded questions from the public. The main topic of discussion was that of the continuing budget crisis in the state.

There were areas of specific discussion about the highway patrol, the Kansas Lottery and others such as state ownership of land in the form of public areas and state parks. Yet, all topics were centered around their impact on the state’s overall fiscal affairs.

Waymaster serves as chairman of the House General Gov’t Budget Committee which includes Rep. Susan Concannon of Beloit. Waymaster expressed his frustration at the overall budget situation in the state, the response of some of his colleagues to it and the 2012 tax plan which he sees as a root of the problem at hand.

An area of concern for many citizens and an issue at the forefront of the minds of county clerks in our listening is the property tax lid that was passed last year and scheduled to be implemented in 2018 had been proposed to be moved up and implemented this year. Under the law, property taxes could not be increased at the local level by more than the percentage increase in the consumer price index. Any increase above that would require a special mail-in election be held by counties to approve such increases.

Though attractive at face value for many tax payers, the measure could prove costly and counterproductive for many rural cities and counties with overall lower populations. Moving the law up from 2018 to later this year would make it a very difficult to manage situation for rural county clerks to fulfill their departmental responsibilities on schedule and in an effective and cost efficient manner.

Senator Bowers elaborated on her view of the proposal to move the law’s implementation into the later part of this year, suggesting that the motivation behind proposal is politically motivated in particular by those in more urban districts looking for leverage in an election year.

Both legislators agreed that it was unlikely that the proposal would make it’s way through the State House and Senate this year.