news Gov. Laura Kelly says Kansas deserves bipartisan progress on taxes, health care and K-12 policy

TOPEKA — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly told the Republican-dominated Congress on Tuesday to offer Kansas a sustainable state budget while offering a bipartisan approach to thorny political issues of taxation, health care and education. encouraged to adopt

Kelly stuck to familiar themes and legislative priorities after postponing her annual state address in early January and erroneously assuming she had COVID-19. and senators to consider a $500 million tax program that would expedite the elimination of the state sales tax on groceries, create a state sales tax exemption on school supplies, and protect Social Security income from the state income tax. urged.

The governor took up meaningful water policy reform and urged legislators to avoid deep politics in K-12 public schools, which have nearly half a million students. She has expanded Medicaid eligibility, legalized medical marijuana, accelerated workforce training, and amplified recommendations to respond to the call to action for the local housing crisis.

Kelley and Congress worked together in her first term to put the content of 286 bills into law, all of which required some degree of bipartisanship. She outlined a similar vision for her second term, fully recognizing the overwhelming Republican majority in the Senate and House. In doing so, it shows no sign of intending to undermine its numerical superiority.

“We don’t always see eye to eye, but the truth is that we only made real progress when we came together,” Kelly said. “That’s why I’m asking you to meet me in the middle again tonight. For so many problems facing our state, from tax cuts to water to health care, the best solutions are either Republicans or Democrats.” They are born out of compromise and cooperation.In the next four years, we must see each other as partners, not enemies.”

“Make yourself clear”

Kerry said he strongly opposes aggressive tax cuts that jeopardize the stability of the state budget. She said the aggressive state income tax cuts that Republican Governor Sam Brownback pushed a decade before him would not be accepted. The Brownback tax program was all but abandoned in 2017 when Congress voted to overturn the veto of the repeal bill after years of budget battles.

“Let me be clear: I am against any irresponsible tax proposal that undermines its foundation,” Kelly said. “We’ve been there before. We know where it leads. And we can’t go back. No debt. Crumbling roads. An overwhelmed foster care system. And, Perhaps most devastating are the underfunded schools.We can’t go back to the days when financial irresponsibility here in Topeka robbed Kansas students of opportunity.”

She said the aim should be to adopt financially sound tax changes that the state can tolerate in the long run, and that will serve the interests of working families and seniors.

The governor’s budget called for eliminating the 4% state sales tax on groceries by this summer. In 2022, the state legislature and Kelly agreed a plan to phase out her 6.5% state sales tax on food. That first stage he occurred on January 1 and was cut by 2.5 percentage points. The law won’t bring it to zero until January 2025.

“There is no reason for Kansasians to look down on their grocery receipts and look at this tax,” the Democratic governor said. “People can’t afford it. People don’t deserve it. We don’t have to wait until 2025.”

She also proposed lowering the state sales tax on diapers and feminine hygiene products, and proposed a four-day back-to-school sales tax waiver each August for those who purchase school supplies. bottom.

He also proposed to Congress to help retirees by raising the income threshold to $100,000 for applying state income taxes to Social Security benefits. Under current law, a Kansas retiree who earns less than her $75,000 a year does not have to pay state income tax on Social Security. For every $1 more, all Social Security income is subject to state income tax.

“These are all ideas that Republicans and Democrats have proposed and supported in the past,” Kelly said.

special education

Kelly introduced the legislators to a House guest — Danny Robson, a fifth grader from Shawnee Mission School District. He has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and vision impairment and needed extra support to learn alongside his peers at school through special education services. I was sitting on the balcony with Laura.

The governor has recommended that the current legislature fully fund special education programs in K-12 schools statewide. Underfunding for special education affects every student in a school. This is because the district will be diverting resources to serve students like Danny.

“Laura has seen firsthand what lack of funds means,” Kelly said. “Sometimes he has to keep Danny home from school because Laura doesn’t have enough staff to keep Danny learning safely.”

The governor said he opposes any attempt by legislators and special interest groups to turn parents against classroom teachers, communities against public schools, or young people against the teaching profession.Thailand The legislative agenda presented by Senate Masterson and House Speaker Dan Hawkins includes a parent rights bill that includes avenues to challenge library and classroom materials, and the ability of transgender students to play sports based on their gender at birth. included the requirement to participate in

“I will resist politicians who seek political gain at the expense of students and families,” Kelly said. “Our students should not be used as pawns in politics. Focus on providing both the resources and support you need, instead of cluttering up.”

Kelly renewed a pitch to extend Medicaid eligibility to more than 100,000 low-income Kansasans. For years, Congress has blocked changes to the state’s Medicaid offering, securing $6 billion in federal funding that would have gone to the state in the process. The governor said the expansion will create 23,000 jobs to date.

“I know it sounds like a broken record, but it’s because our healthcare system is broken,” she said. “When that happens, the community is devastated. These Kansasians have to drive hours to get basic care.”

Kelly pleaded with lawmakers to invest state resources in mental health services and tackle the rising number of opioid overdose deaths in Kansas. She advocates funding naloxone to help schools address student overdoses and action to decriminalize fentanyl test strips so people can be more informed about the content of the drug they consume. said it should be included.

Human resource development

Kelly welcomed the work of the Kansas Department of Commerce to recruit new businesses to Kansas. This includes Dehis Soto’s Panasonic, Dodge City’s Hil Murthys, Phillipsburg’s Amber His Wave and Cherryvale’s Bartlett Grain. Since taking office in 2019, Kansas has recorded more than $15 billion in new capital investment and created or retained 54,000 jobs, she said.

But she warned that economic growth would shine a spotlight on the state’s shortage of skilled workers. said there should be more funding for

Kelley said the evidence was clear from Goodland to liberal and that in western Kansas a reduced water supply could be a disaster. There is an estimated 10 years of water for

“Waiting for some miracle to happen is not an option,” the governor said.

She said the state’s water plan was fully funded last year for the first time since 2009. Producers worried about water quality and quantity as the state paid off a $30 million debt related to the reservoir and was able to divert the money into investments that work for the irrigators.

The governor has encouraged lawmakers to approve a bill that would legalize the consumption of marijuana for medical purposes. In the past, the House has passed bills that the Senate ignored. Thirty-nine other states allow marijuana consumption for chronic pain, seizure disorders, and post-traumatic stress syndrome. A majority of doctors believe medical marijuana should be part of a comprehensive palliative care plan, Kelly said.

“In fact, just a few weeks ago, just before Christmas, police raided Hayes’ terminally ill hospital room. I was ordered to appear in court even though I couldn’t come out.We all know that’s ridiculous.”

She said Brett died two weeks ago (the first week of the 2023 legislative session), and his death showed the folly of state laws banning marijuana use for health reasons.

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