Hold onto your wallets and your liberties. The Kansas Legislature is back in session.
Lawmakers gaveled the session opening in a ceremony on Jan. 9. Now the real work and angst begins.
At the top of the docket will be education funding. A series of cuts to education funding in the last few years has school districts, including the Gardner Edgerton district, suing the state for more funding.
In the meantime, Gov. Sam Brownback has offered a proposal that would fundamentally change the way the state divvies funds to schools. The proposal has already seen opposition from both the right and the left. Democrats will announce their plan to fund the schools sometime after press time.
Brownback officials have also said he plans to announce changes to the state’s tax structure during his State of the State address tonight, Jan. 11. Brownback officials have said his plan will make taxes flatter and reduce the state’s income tax. At least one group, Kansans for No Income Tax, is lobbying to eliminate the income tax all together.
Meanwhile, an $8.3 billion shortfall in the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, KPERS, will need to be addressed.
Several members of the Senate will offer a plan to create a rainy day savings fund to help see the state through tough times. Lawmakers considered something similar last year and will likely do so again this year.
Between all of these battles, lawmakers will likely consider legislation that changes things that affect the daily lives of Kansas residents and business owners. In recent years, those changes have included speed limit changes on state highways, smoking bans and texting while driving bans.
And in the meantime, lawmakers will be asked to redistrict Kansas’ Congressional districts, state House districts and state Senate districts.
All of these things will take place against the backdrop of an election year in which every seat in the Kansas House will be up for re-election as will a third of the Senate. Conservatives are on the cusp of dominating Kansas politics. They control the House and the governorship. But a group of self-proclaimed Republican moderates hold the power in the Senate, and a handful of Democrats in legislative offices continue to hold sway.
It’s unlikely that blood will be spilled under the Capitol dome, but tears and sweat likely will.
If nothing else, it will be a good show.