From the office of Adam J. Luser, State Representative 2nd District
Capitol Report – March 5, 2015
As I have said in the past, it is a privilege to serve Southeast Kansas in Topeka. However, it is more challenging than ever. Why we as responsible legislators are not discussing the state’s financial woes is beyond me. Moreover, why are we not discussing the solution? Our tax policy, voted into effect in 2012 is crippling Kansas. As a result, 300,000 Kansans no longer pay state income tax. It doesn’t take an economist to realize that if you remove your revenue source, your bank account dwindles. The two things that Kansas is best at, educating our children and building great highways are now in jeopardy. As the saying goes we don’t plan to fail we fail to plan. Kansas’ tax policy is failing and ultra-conservatives who run Kansas government are refusing to plan, that’s the problem.
Here are a few solutions that the Brownback team has developed in an effort to not pay income taxes. First it’s important to note a study released this week by the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy identifies Kansas’ tax policy as the ninth most unfair in the country. The study cited Governor Brownback’s tax plan, which authorized tax exemptions for businesses and the wealthiest Kansans, as the reason why. The governor’s tax policy has created state revenue shortfalls and a budget deficit of over $1 billion over the next five years.
In an attempt to offset the significant cost of his failed tax plan, Governor Brownback is proposing to raise consumption taxes to generate more revenue for the state. The House Taxation Committee heard the governor’s proposal which would:
- Nearly triple the tax on cigarettes from 79 cents to $2.29 a pack,
- And raise the tax on alcohol from 8 percent to 12 percent.
Business owners testified to the committee that the bill would push sales across state lines into Missouri, causing them to lose business. Thus far, the governor has not been able to garner support for the bill from members of his own party so it is unlikely that the new taxes will pass.
Raising the tax on fuel has been suggested driving more business to Missouri. The latest attack on rural Kansans is Senate Bill 178. SB 178 would radically allow the way that agricultural land is valued for property tax purposes. Statewide, the bill would increase valuations on dry land by an average of 408%, irrigated farmland by an average of 593% and grassland by an average of 672%.
There is also a proposal to revoke the sales tax exemption on business machinery and equipment. This exemption made Kansas business more competitive and brought good paying jobs to Kansas. Revoking this exemption would make it harder for job creators to purchase new equipment that helps them expand their business. Does Kansas want to be a business friendly state or not? Do we only care about the few businesses?
Finally if you don’t like that law you change it. If there is a branch of government that keeps you in check you change them. That brings us to Judicial Selection.
Several proposals are circulating in the capitol to change the way Supreme Court justices are selected. The current process is merit-based and nonpartisan; a nine member commission forwards three nominees to the governor for selection. Seeking to change the process, the House Judiciary Committee recently passed two proposals:
- Appointment by governor, with Senate Confirmation and
- Direct election of justices by voters in a partisan election.
An independent, non-partisan judiciary is essential to the state’s system of checks and balances and electing judges in a partisan fashion, or allowing the governor to appoint justices skews that balance and threatens the principle of democracy in our state.
Friends, I am here to represent the 2nd District of Kansas. I will do the best I can for my district. We have a duty to be statesmen as well. The direction we are going is the wrong way. I look forward to working with the majority, when they come forward with a plan that best suits the majority of Kansans. The time is now and here is the place to start doing the right thing for our state. I will keep you updated on the progress.
Keep in touch
It is a special honor to serve as your state representative. I value and need your input on the various issues facing state government. Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions. My office address is Room 43-S, 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612. You can reach me at (785)296-7698 or call the legislative hotline at 1-800-432-3924 to leave a message for me. Additionally, you can e-mail me at email@example.com. You can also follow the legislative session online at http://www.kslegislature.org. Please pass on to your neighbors and friends.
Adam J. Lusker Sr.
Representative, 2nd District
State Capitol Room 43-S
Topeka, KS 66612