The first week of the 2018 session began with a majority of the focus on K-12 funding. Last session K-12 funding was increased over $186 million for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 and $283.8 million for FY 2019 (FY 2018 began July 1st, 2017). During the State of the State, the Governor proposed an additional $600 million in the next five years. Before the Governor’s announcement, legislative leadership hired a consultant to analyze K-12 funding. The report is scheduled to be presented March 15. An independent review will be completed after the report is released.

There is consideration for a Constitutional Amendment to address the Constitutional language “shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state.” Currently, billions of dollars are spent on education in Kansas. Is this amount “suitable”? And who should determine this amount; the 165 legislators who are elected by the people or the seven members of the court? If 2/3 of the Legislature can agree on the amendment, then voters would decide if they want the proposed change. The attorney general best explained why there needs to be a change to the Kansas Constitution regarding school funding. This ambiguous language resulted in many lawsuits over the years, the most notable was Montoy in 2005 and the current lawsuit, referred to as Gannon, costing Kansas taxpayers millions of dollars.

The governor’s budget proposal also included an additional $100 million of increased spending. Where will the money come from? In 2015, the second largest tax increase (sales tax increased to 6.5 percent) become law and in 2017 the largest tax increase (income tax) passed. I voted No on both massive tax increases. Neither of these tax increases addressed the Kansas budget situation because Kansas has a spending problem. Even after the massive retroactive tax increase in 2017 ($1.2 billion in two years) and the sales tax increase in 2015 ($400 million), Kansas government may not collect enough taxes to cover spending in 2020.

I will continue to fight for limited government and to rein in wasteful spending.

We have been hearing in the news about the opioid crisis. The Kansas Board of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee testified that the largest population age group who opioid overdose in Kansas is people 60 years and older. They “constitute 24.5 percent of all opioid related overdoses where EMS responds.” EMS also testified that most of the overdoses in this category are people who forget they took their medication and will take another dose.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your 12th District state senator.

I can be reached at (785) 296-6838 or by email at Caryn.Tyson@senate.ks.gov

Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, represents Franklin County and the 12th District in the Kansas Senate.