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Week 5 Newsletter

Happy Valentines Day everyone! I hope that you and your love have a wonderful day. If your still looking keep the faith. If your missing them, I am willing to bet they are thinking of you today.

Yesterday, Thursday February 14th, the Kansas House of Representatives deliberated and voted to OPPOSE HB 2197. This bill would have re-amortized (re-mortgaged) the Kansas Public Employees Retirement Systems unfunded liability. This bill had a fiscal note that clearly indicated it would cost the state nearly $7.4 Billion in the long term to save around $150 Million this next fiscal year. I don’t know about you guys, but trading $150M for $7.4B doesn’t make sense. We must protect those that rely on KPERS for their livelihood and those that are currently paying into it in hopes one day they can retire as well. We must control spending, not find more ways to raise money to spend more money.

There were a couple of amendments proposed during the debate. One amendment would have given those on KPERS a Cost of Living Increase. While this is very important to contemplate, there is currently a bill being heard in the house for just this reason. No point in amending it into this bill. Another amendment would have merged a bill to make the KPERS payment from SB 9 into this bill. Again, it is being debated on its own merit and shouldn’t muddy the waters. KPERS Re-amortization is now a dead issue.

In Appropriations Committee, we had a hearing on SB 9 earlier this week. This would immediately make a $115M past due payment to KPERS. The legislature last year wanted to make sure we had the ending balance before making this payment. We ended the year with appx. $317M in revenue above estimates; therefore, the Senate has voted to make the payment. We will work this bill next Tuesday and hopefully have it voted on in the house by the end of next week. It will then be placed on the Governor's desk for her signature. Will she sign it? That is to be determined.

Enough talk about KPERS for now. Here is an interesting bill that I hope gets a fair hearing. It is SB 91 which would freeze property tax for citizens of Kansas that are over 65, have their house paid off and its valued at less than $350K. I think this very much warrants conversation. I know a number of folks who live on fixed income and the “stealth” tax of increased valuations and property taxes has a significant impact on their budget.

CRAZY BILL OF THE WEEK: One Representative introduced a bill that would require banks to make up to 20% of their loans to subprime borrowers. In essence, it would force the bank to make bad loans. Not only would that not be allowed by the agencies with federal oversight, I think the great recession of 2008 should have taught us that subprime loans probably shouldn’t be made. This bill will more than likely never get heard.

There continues to be a great deal of conversation about K-12 funding. We have to figure out what the schools need, not what the courts say they need. Base student aid is on an unsustainable trajectory even without the additional $90M the Supreme Court indicates they should have. I have attached a graph that shows the trajectory already passed. As you can see, the increases are substantial over the next 5 years.

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I would love to hear from you guys. I have had a number of fantastic visitors at the Capital over this past week and would certainly love more. Would you like to bring your family up? If your planning a trip to Topeka, swing by and say hello!

Until next week,
Rep. Stephen Owens
PH: (785) 296-7500

Committee to Elect Stephen Owens,
Gloria Arrellano, Treasurer
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