Kansas Legislative Report, February 28 – March 2

The eighth week of the 2018 Kansas Legislative session was a brief one with the Legislature returning Wednesday from the long post-Turnaround Day weekend and Friday being pro forma. With more than half of the session’s ninety-day schedule now complete there remains a great deal to be done before First Adjournment, scheduled for Friday, April 6th.

Washington Days

Beginning Friday Washington Days, the annual Democratic Party State Convention will be held in Topeka. With a number of issues to be addressed and a candidate for Governor forum scheduled for Saturday evening, this year’s event should be exciting.

Revenue Estimates

On Thursday the Kansas Department of Revenue sent out the following press release detailing results so far in fiscal year 2018:

TOPEKA—Total tax receipts continue to display marked stability this fiscal year, coming in $275.36 million above expectations so far, and $612.70 million above last year at this time, according to the latest revenue report released Thursday.

Individual income tax collections for the fiscal year are $268.97 million above expectations, totaling at $1.99 billion. Sales tax continues growth above predictions in to the third quarter, coming in at $6.30 million above estimates and $48.37 million above last year.

“There is a growing sense of optimism reflected in tax receipts, but we have to be patient for April receipts to accurately identify economic growth,” Revenue Secretary Sam Williams said. “Hopefully this is a sign that businesses are making investments and Kansans are buying more goods and services.”

Corporate receipts are $9.66 million below expectations for this fiscal year, but are up $14.92 million over this time last year.

Tax receipts for February totaled $373.1 million, $41.58 million above February 2017 and $26.73 million above the monthly estimate.

K12 Budget

The K12 Budget Committee this week announced their intention to work the budget for K12 every day until it is resolved. With scheduled informational hearings as well as work beginning on what has already been presented it should be a busy rest of the session for this committee.

Party of the Center

A group of Kansans are working to introduce a new party to the Kansas political landscape. With the goal of establishing a party that will appeal to those who feel the major parties have moved to far into the extremes, the Party of the Center has begun the work of getting the eighteen thousand signatures needed to be recognized by the Secretary of State and appear on the November ballot.

Budget Committees 

The shortened work week also ate into the time that legislators spent on budget matters.

House Appropriations met twice as a full committee to discuss budget subcommittee reports. The biggest budget it worked on this week was for the Kansas Dept. of Transportation. The committee heard the subcommittee report which recommended stopping the transfers from the State Highway Fund to the Kansas Dept. of Education to fund its transportation money for local school districts. This SHF transfer to KSDE is around $100 million. The committee took no action in this budget, and will continue its conversation about this on Monday. Efforts to delay this debate in committee to later on in the session were not successful.

House Appropriations will discuss budgets next week about other big agencies.

Senate Ways and Means didn’t meet as a full committee, instead concentrating on its budget subcommittees. The full committee is scheduled to meet twice next week, and will hear the budget for the Judiciary Branch. House Appropriations has already delayed its consideration of the Judiciary budget until later on in the session. Again, the Judiciary budget will be a point of contention between the House and Senate, as it was last year. Will KDOT’s budget also be? Stay tuned.

Next Week

Next week should see the Legislature ramping up their rate of work. With the largest issue, K12 funding all but untouched and each chamber beginning the work of sifting through bills passed by their sister chamber expect the hard work to truly begin. Bills of interest include PBM regulation, allowing taverns to sell self-serving beer, STAR Bonds, property tax evaluation on large commercial property, seat belt evidence and asbestos trust claims. It should be an exciting dash to April 6th.

Significant Dates and Events

March 2nd
Washington Days (Democrat State Party Convention)
March 23rd
Last Day Non-Exempt
Committee Consideration

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