The legislative session wrapped over the weekend after completing their 113th day of work, making it the second longest session in history. (The record was set in 2015 with a 114-day session!)
But they didn’t adjourn without tackling some major public policy issues, including passing a comprehensive tax reform measure upon overriding the governor’s veto. This reform puts the state back onto more stable financial ground. So much so that just hours after passing the reform package Moody’s returned the State of Kansas to a stable outlook from negative watch. (Read about Moody’s upgrade.)
This measure is a great step forward. This gives Kansas an opportunity to begin the long walk away from a reliance on the State Highway Fund money to fill budget shortfalls. We want to thank those that supported meaningful tax reform, although we understand that there is still more hard work to do in the years to come.
The legislature also proceeded with a bi-partisan effort aimed at allowing KDOT the ability to ensure proper maintenance and preservation on Kansas roadways. At the urging of Economic Lifelines and other transportation advocacy organizations, both the house and senate passed language allowing KDOT to bond up to an additional $400m to address critical maintenance needs. While debt isn’t an ideal solution, it’s a decision that ensures KDOT roads can stay in good condition as we move through the next two fiscal years. This choice, while not an easy one, is necessary to ensure the agency can let projects that will meet the minimum preservation needs of the state.
Economic Lifelines would like to thank the legislators who helped lead the efforts of ensuring that our states preservation needs can be met: Rep. JR Claeys (R-Salina), Rep. Henry Helgerson (D-Wichita), Rep. Troy Waymaster (R-Russell), Rep. Kathy Wolfe Moore (D- Kansas City), Sen. John Skubal (R-Overland Park), Sen. Vicki Schmidt (R-Topeka), Sen. Carolyn McGinn (R-Sedgwick), and Sen. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka).
As any bill does, the budget measure next goes before the Governor for review before becoming law. He has the ability, through the line-item veto, to strike spending items contained in the measure.
Legislators will return for sine die, the official end to the legislative session, on June 26th.
Overall, this legislative session was a great success for transportation in Kansas. While, advocates of transportation didn’t get everything that was proposed, there was considerable movement in the right direction, with a more stable revenue picture for Kansas and additional resources for transportation We want to thank Economic Lifelines members: You played a crucial part in building momentum and enthusiasm on important infrastructure issues in Kansas. We couldn’t do it without you!
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