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Representative Waymaster's Newsletter March 11, 2016

February Revenues Drastically Down

On Tuesday, March 1, 2016, we received the revenue numbers for the month of February and they were, somewhat, what we anticipated just not the excessive amount of being almost $54 million short of the stated projections.

Here is a breakdown of the February revenue numbers where the state of Kansas missed the projections in income, sales, and cigarette taxes, the latter two were adjusted during the tax debate last session.  Income taxes were approximately $27 million below the estimates that were calculated by the Consensus Revenue Estimate Group back in November 2015.  The revenue group had predicted that in the month of February the state would collect $100 million in income taxes, however, in actuality the amount was $72.9 million.

The state sales tax projections missed the intended target by over $12 million dollars.  The revenue group had anticipated the collection of $176 million in sales tax, although the amount collected was $163 million for the month of February.

As I mentioned before, the cigarette tax, along with the state sales tax, were two of the taxes adjusted in the tax deliberation last spring.  For cigarette taxes in the month of February, the projection called for the collection of $11 million whereas only about $9 million was collected.

Governor Brownback, in his statements last Tuesday, did not criticize the current tax policy in the state of Kansas, however, he directed the root cause of the short revenues being the downturn in the economy and falling prices in the oil and agricultural sectors.

The Governor’s response to address some of the shortfall precipitated by the dismal February revenue numbers was to reduce allotments for the regents schools in Kansas by three percent, or approximately $17 million for Kansas universities throughout the rest of the current fiscal year which ends June 30, 2016.  For Fort Hays State University, the Regent school closest to our area, this results in a cut of funding of $992,367.  While awaiting the March revenue figures, the Legislature will be studying areas where adjustments can be made to balance the budget for the state of Kansas.

Efficiency Study:  General Government Budget Recommendations

This entire week the General Government Budget Committee focused on the recommendations from the auditing firm Alvarez and Marsal in identifying savings to the state of Kansas.  Our committee heard from representatives from the auditing firm and state agencies.  We heard detailed descriptions of over twenty-five recommendations that could potentially save the state over $146 million over the course of five years.  Some of the recommendations that we discussed were:  centralized budgeting and management; centralization of state printing services; re-bidding of state insurance; and many recommendations regarding the Governor’s office.  On Thursday, the committee chairs reported the recommendations to the full Appropriations committee.  We will take action on these in the coming weeks.

The Governor’s Vetoes

Last Friday, Governor Brownback vetoed the STAR (Sales Tax as Revenue) Bond provision that was included by the Senate and conferred on by the House in the supplemental budget bill that was passed in February by both chambers.  The rationale behind the governor’s line-item veto is that he is attempting to entice the American Royal, one of Kansas City, Missouri’s prime fall events, to hold their event in Wyandotte County, Kansas.  If the event were to relocate from Missouri to Kansas, there would be tremendous infrastructure needs that would be addressed.  The event would generate the construction of livestock arenas, areas for barbeque contests, and a newly constructed hockey rink, all in the Kansas City, Kansas area known as Village West. The provision that was added to the budget bill would only apply to Wyandotte County and would prohibit new STAR bonds issuances.  Since the governor has vetoed this particular provision in the budget, there is discussion on whether both chambers may decide to override the governor’s veto.  If that were to occur, right now I would vote not to override the governor’s veto regarding this issue.

Another bill that Governor Brownback vetoed was Senate Bill 250, which happened to be a bill that I carried on Wednesday, February 23, which was initially an innocuous bill regarding the Department of Administration.  However, during deliberation of the bill, an amendment was added halting the Governor from moving forward on a decision by his office to enter into a $20 million financing agreement, without legislative oversight, for the construction of a new power plant for the Capitol complex when, and if, the Docking Building is razed.  The amendment that was included on the base bill of Senate Bill 250 prevented the Governor from moving forward on this lease purchase agreement and delayed the razing of the Docking Building for the period of two years to allow for a study and more analysis of the possible future of the Docking Building.

On Thursday, March 10, there was a motion in the Senate to override the veto, however, that motion was later withdrawn and will most likely be debated in the Senate on Monday, March 14.  On this bill I would vote to override the Governor.  

House Chaplain and Contact Information

On Monday, March 7, 2016, Pastor Roger Dennis from St. John’s Lutheran Church, Russell, was invited to serve as the House and Senate Chaplain for the day by Senator Elaine Bowers and myself.  Here are the words he shared with us:

“In a time where there are no easy answers to the challenges confronting this body, I pray.  May people truly listen to each other, converse with each other, and cooperate with each other.  Help all to realize it is not about them, but the people they serve.  May this body meet the heavy responsibilities inherent with governance.  Provide all with insightful and just deliberation marked with good stewardship of resources and compassion.”

If you have any concerns, feel free to contact my office at (785) 296-7672, visit www.troywaymaster.com or email me at troy.waymaster@house.ks.gov

The honor to serve you in the 109th Kansas House District and the state of Kansas is one I do not take lightly. Do not hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, concerns and questions.  I appreciate hearing from the residents of the 109th House District and others from the state of Kansas.          

Troy L. Waymaster,

State Representative

109th Kansas House


Paid for by Troy Waymaster for 109th Kansas House, James Malone, Treasurer
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