June 13, 2017 Legislative Update

The week of June 5, 2017 at the Statehouse has already earned many adjectives ranging from historic to wrong-headed to disappointing. It was, in any case, momentous. Taxes Having completed work on the all-important school finance formula, legislators turned their sights on taxes. On Monday night, the House and Senate approved a tax package and sent it to the governor. He swiftly vetoed the bill saying it would harm Kansas families and move the state away from its pro-growth orientation. On Tuesday, both bodies reconvened and debated into the evening before voting to override the veto. The tax package became law. The final tax bill brings back a 3-bracketed income… Read More

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June 6, 2017 Legislative Update

The Legislature worked long hours over the weekend and yesterday. While they have reached agreement on a new school finance formula, they do not seem to have moved much closer to finding a tax plan to pay for it. The House and Senate have now passed a school finance bill and sent it to the Governor. The bill creates a new formula which, by all accounts, resembles the formula which was decommissioned two years ago when the state started funding schools through the current block grant system. The block grants have, of course, since been determined to be unconstitutional. This latest K-12 funding plan raises $194 million for schools next… Read More

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May 30, 2017 Legislative Update

The House passed its version of a school finance package after several hours of debate last week and then packed-up for the Memorial Day weekend. The House bill creates a new school finance formula similar to one that was replaced two years ago by a block grant program for schools. (Recall the state supreme court ruled that block grant program unconstitutional and has threatened to disallow any further funding for schools unless a new formula is in place by June 30.) The bill created by the House increases K-12 spending by $180 million next year and $100 million the year after and puts more money into at-risk students in an… Read More

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May 23, 2017 Legislative Update

As lawmakers entered the fourth week of their Veto Session and rapidly approached their 100th day in Topeka, they seemed little closer to identifying the solution they seek to raise just enough revenue to balance the budget and pay for schools. Tax Plans Some common themes are emerging. The so-called March to Zero, a provision in the current tax code which automatically lowers tax rates when revenues go up, is absent from every proposal. So is the exemption for income earned by LLCs and other pass-through organizations; that exemption is all but certain to be repealed retroactively. Under most of the tax proposals being passed around, Kansans will once again… Read More

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May 16, 2017 Legislative Update

Tax Debate Continues Legislators have been back from their break for about two weeks. There has been a fair amount of movement in the Statehouse but final solutions remain murky. Lawmakers have been considering various tax proposals. These all bear a resemblance in that they contain 3 or 4 income tax brackets and varying rates. The LLC exemption is repealed in all the proposals. Most of the plans restore deductibility of medical expenses. If there is a sweet spot, a plan which raises enough money to close the budget gap and is either palatable to the Governor or can garner enough votes to withstand his veto, it has yet to… Read More

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Leadership Greater Topeka Experience

Leadership Greater Topeka has been a mainstay in Topeka for more than three decades. Over the course of the program, hundreds upon hundreds of individuals have graduated and now call themselves LGT Alumni. It’s a little daunting to be selected to join 35 other professionals at the beginning of a new year to join the Leadership family. But now, reflecting on our experiences as the program has drawn to a close, the members of the 2017 class have found that LGT has changed us in innumerable ways. As two Topeka transplants, it felt a little strange at first to be selected to join a Topeka-centric tradition like LGT. But we… Read More

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May 9, 2017 Legislative Update

The regular session of the 2017 legislature adjourned on April 7. Lawmakers returned to Topeka on May 1 to begin their wrap-up session. They are still struggling to piece together a tax package which will provide enough revenue to balance the budget for the next two years. Before adjourning, the Senate resoundingly defeated the only income tax bill this year which the Governor had shown any interest in signing. It would have imposed a flat tax of 4.6% on all income earned by Kansans. Having heard loud and clear that a flat tax won’t pass, negotiators in both the House and Senate are working to develop a more conventional bracketed… Read More

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Q&A with James Davis, Vice Chair of Government Relations

James Davis is currently serving as the Chamber’s Vice Chair of Government Relations. He is Vice-President Bankcard Manager with CoreFirst Bank & Trust. James has been an active Chamber member for years and served as Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2011. In his role as Vice Chair of Government Relations, James works closely with Curtis Sneden to stay abreast of developments at the Statehouse and at other levels of government as they work to advance the Chamber’s legislative priorities. What has been going on with the legislature this year? The story since the legislature came to town in January has been the budget. Lawmakers were told at the… Read More

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April 11, 2017 Legislative Update

The legislature already took one good hard swing at tax reform back in February. That tax package from the House was vetoed in one of the most dramatic scenes of the year. Another dramatic scene played out last Thursday in the Senate. A New Approach The Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee sent a new approach to the Senate floor last Thursday. It was a “Flat tax” under which every Kansan, regardless of how much money they earned, would pay income tax at the same 4.6% rate. In an effort to soften the blow this approach would have on low-income taxpayers who currently pay at a rate of 2.7%, the Senate… Read More

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TopCity Interns Program Begins Development

Forge, the Topeka and Shawnee County young professional’s organization, along with several other organizations is thrilled to forge ahead with their first ever Summer Internship Program. The program gathers over 200 interns from local Topeka and Shawnee County businesses, providing presenting them with the best internship experience possible while investing in their future as professionals. Their purpose is to provide a platform of connections for new up-and-coming young professionals. The ultimate goal is to impart a lasting impression of Topeka and Shawnee County on summer interns, maximizing attraction and retention of young professionals to the community. Forge is an organization that amplifies Topeka and Shawnee County’s ability to recruit, retain… Read More

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