Salina area legislators returned home for a question and answer session with the public on Saturday.
About 40 people attended the meeting that centered on taxes and questions surrounding a way to pay for the state budget.
State Senator Randall Hardy, District 24, Representative Steven Johnson, District 108 and Representative Diana Dierks of District 71 all voted this week for the measure that increases personal income tax and shatters the tax shield for businesses.
Representative J. R. Claeys told the gathering that he did not support the plan stating, “It is not a solution to our long term fiscal problems,” he said.
Legislators in the House and Senate are hoping the bill is a first step in solving the budget puzzle by generating an estimated $590 million next year. Governor Brownback likely won’t sign the bill that undoes his signature tax policy, so lawmakers are waiting to see if he leaves it on the table – or vetoes the measure.
“I expect we will get a signal of which route it’s going early over the next ten days,” Johnson said.
Legislators also touched on school funding needs with Rep. Claeys pressing for full funding for All-Day Kindergarten while Sen. Hardy pointed out the desire for more education opportunities at the Pre-K level.
Rep.Dierks told the gathering most of the discussion she has with her constituents is about education. “They are all concerned about adequate funding for public education,” she said.
The panel was also asked about rolling back a law allowing concealed guns on college campuses, set to take effect July 1 without legislation to halt it. “For me that’s a local control issue,” Rep. Johnson said. “I would like to leave that up to colleges and Regents to handle.”
Sen. Hardy agreed saying the issue is best left to individual campuses to decide. Rep. Claeys contends that he supported the measure of concealed carry when it passed, “And I still support it today,” he said. Rep. Dierks dislikes the plan stating, “In the volatile environment we are in at this point, I am not for it.”
The next legislative update is scheduled for Saturday, March 18, 2017 at the Salina Area Chamber’s Visit Salina Annex from 8:30am to 10am and is free and open to the public.