Jan 24, 2023

RAHJES REPORT: January 23, 2023

Posted Jan 24, 2023 11:51 AM
State Rep. Ken Rahjes, R-Agra, 110th Dist. File photo/Hays Post
State Rep. Ken Rahjes, R-Agra, 110th Dist. File photo/Hays Post

The Rahjes Report
January 23, 2023

Hello from Topeka.

We are already in week 3 of the 2023 Kansas Legislative session. It has been a slow go with mainly bill introductions and overviews in committee meetings.

Once again, I am Chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and member of Appropriations and Higher Education Budget Committee.

The Governor delivers the State of the State this week, as it was delayed by a possible illness a couple of weeks ago when it was originally planned. We have already received her budget so this state of the state presentation will be one of applause lines and broad ideas with the budget serving as the roadmap we begin when producing the next budget.

Here are some of the highlights in the Governor’s budget:

Back to School Tax Holiday - This idea also is nothing new; back in 2015, House Republicans introduced House Bill 2076, which would have created a weekend-long sales tax holiday for back-to-school purchases. At the time, Democrats, and the Kansas Association of School Boards, opposed the bill because it would "decrease state revenue." House Republicans are committed to helping Kansas families, especially low-income families, save money as they prepare to send their children back to school and to assist local businesses to sell more merchandise, which is why we have consistently supported these kinds of low-tax policies. A 4-day sales tax holiday for back to school was proposed. Only a list of items will be subject to this tax holiday. Estimated tax relief is $5.5 million.

Social Security Income Tax Relief - Though House Republicans are glad to see the Governor has finally recognized the wisdom of former Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt's "Retire Tax-Free" plan, the timing of her endorsement of his proposal does seem politically convenient, coming as it does after the November election. Furthermore, rather than providing relief to all Social Security income tax recipients as Republicans had proposed, the Governor has proposed a "smoothing of the cliff" only for certain retirees. The Governor's plan: Retirees falling between $75,000 and $100,000 will see this "smoothing of the cliff." Estimated tax relief of only $20.5 million. Retire Tax-Free plan: If effective in the 2023 tax year, exempting all Social Security income is estimated to provide about $32.5 million in relief, $109.2 million in 2024, and $112.5 million in 2025. Entirely exempting all private retirement income would provide about $69.9 million in relief in 2023, $233.8 million in 2024, and $236.1 million in 2025.

Additional Facts Regarding the Budget:

ONE TIME EXPENDITURES, Rainy Day Fund- $500 million added to the Budget Stabilization fund which will put the state’s rainy-day fund at $1.5 billion.

Infrastructure Leveraging Fund - $220 million added to the Infrastructure Leveraging Fund which was created by the Infrastructure Hub as a special fund to invest in infrastructure projects identified as priority.

Debt Buydown/Debt Avoidance - $53 million taken from State General Fund (SGF) to eliminate Kansas Water Office debt. Eliminates 2 remaining reservoir debts related to Milford and Perry reservoirs. Estimated interest payment savings of $29.4 million. $16.4 million taken from State Institutions Building Fund to pay cash for new Veteran’s Home, estimated interest payment saving of $10 million, contingent on VA awarding federal funds.

KanCare Program - $1.5 million of SGF to increase rates for targeted case management $7.1 million of SGF to standardize key reimbursements rates across waivers. Examples include: increasing service rates for Brain Injury, Physical Disability, Autism and Technology Assisted waivers to match the rates for Frail Elderly waiver. Eliminating service rate disparity between waivers, $3.7 million of SGF to increase rates for brain injury facilities, $5.1 million of SGF to increase placement rates for relative & non-kinship foster homes

K-12 Education - K-12 funding for FY24 and FY25, $3 million from SGF to expand Mental Health Intervention Team Pilot (expand to 15-25 districts), $5.0 million from SGF for Safe and Secure grants. $50,000 in partial year funding for FY23 and $273,000 in FY24 from the State General Fund for 2 Full-Time Equivalent School Resource Officers for the School of the Blind and 2 Full-Time Equivalent School Resource Officers for the School of the Deaf. $72.4 million each of next 5 years for Special Education to get all school districts to 92% by FY28.

Higher Education - $107.9 million of SGF to keep no to low tuition increases. $65.9 million broken down as follows: $20 million to expand financial aid for the state’s public universities, $21.8 million to mitigate impact from inflation, $10.6 million for university specific programs, $8mil for implementation of National Institute of Student Success Academic Playbooks, $42 million in one-time expenses broken down as follows: $20 million for deferred maintenance, with a dollar-for-dollar match requirement, $12 million for IT and cybersecurity upgrades, $10 million for demolition

Workforce Development - $4 million of SGF to Board of Regent for micro-internship program. Economic Development Initiatives Fund (EDIF): . $3 million of EDIF for Department of Commerce marketing, $500,000 of EDIF for Office of Registered Apprenticeship, $1 million of EDIF for early childhood education and care, $2.5 million of SGF for childcare facility pilot project, $20 million of SGF to Housing Revolving Loan Program- Kansas Housing Resource Corporation

State Employees - 5% Statewide pay adjustment (Excludes Judicial Branch, KSSB and KSSD teachers, elected officials, and agencies on approved career progression plan.)

Cybersecurity and IT - Total of $41.6 million over FY23 and FY24.

These are just some of the highlights contained in the Governor’s budget and I am sure there will be additions and subtractions as the session moves along.

You can follow along on happenings in the legislature online at kslegislature.org and when the house and senate are on the floor or in committees you can see all of them on the Kansas Legislature’s YouTube channel.

I have moved offices and now located at 186-W, which is the northwest corner of the capital. My assistant again this year is Terry Benitis. If you would like to contact me, email is: [email protected], phone during the session 785-296-7463 or you can always try my cell number at 785-302-8416.

If you have a young person who would like to come and spend the day as a Legislative Page, please let me know as soon as possible and we will work on what is a good day for that to happen.

Thanks for reading. It is my honor to serve you.

Ken Rahjes, R-Agra, is the Kansas state representative of the 110th Dist. which includes: 

* Norton and Phillips Counties
* Ellis County: Cities: Catharine, Ellis and Schoenchen; Townships: Big Creek (part), Buckeye, Catherine, Ellis, Herzog (part), Lookout (part) and Wheatland (part)
Graham County: City: Hill City; Townships: Hill City (part) and Nicodemus (part)
* Rooks County: Cities: Damar, Palco, Plainville, Stockton, Woodston and Zurich; 
Townships: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (part), 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12