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ISSUES PAGE
FOR A MORE DETAILED EXPLANATION SIMPLY CLICK ON THE UNDERLINED TOPIC TITLE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE STATEMENT

TAX ISSUES

I support a fair tax system that doesn't overburden business or property owners and one in which everyone pays their fair share. I also believe tax breaks should go to the job creators not the profit takers.

EDUCATION ISSUES

I am pro-child. I support public education, K-12 and beyond. We should have accountability but should not make the process more difficult by slashing budgets.

LANDOWNER'S PROPERTY RIGHTS

Landowner's property rights should be protected and the burden of taxation should not be shifted to the property owner.

BUDGET PRIORITIES

Economic recorvery is very important, but Kansas needs to be a good place to live, work and raise children, as well as a good place to do business.

IMMIGRATION

"Illegal is illegal" is just a slogan. We need a morally consistent policy.

KANSAS PUBLIC EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM

We should have a system that provides the best benefit for employees at the lowest cost to the taxpayer.

HEALTH CARE ISSUES

We need a State system that provides quality care and prevention while promoting cost efficient health delivery models.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

Religious freedom is the right of all Americans, but it should not be used as an excuse to ignore the law or as a campaign tactic.

SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS

The second amendment does guarantee law abiding citizens the right to own guns and I support that right within reason.

LIFE ISSUES

I do not believe in abortion on demand or that abortion should be an easy form of birth control but I do believe being pro-life is more than just being pro birth.

 

 

TAX ISSUES

While I believe some tax breaks can be good, the Governor’s plan goes too far. The 2012 law creates a billion dollar deficit in the state budget by 2019. This will result in massive cuts to education and programs for seniors, veterans, public safety, and the disabled. Even the Governor's current ads indicate future tax cuts will take another $780 million out of the state revenue.

The tax plan does not treat taxpayers fairly. It eliminates taxes for professionals who can form Limited Liability Corporations (LLC’s) while eliminating deductions for working families like childcare, disabled care, and health care premiums. Professionals and investors will pay no tax on earnings while their office staff will.

We should reduce property taxes for everyone not income taxes for large corporations and the very wealthy. I voted to transfer $45 million a year to the Local Ad Valorem Tax Reduction Fund, which would allow cities and counties to lower their local property tax rates. Because many programs for education, mental health, seniors, and public safety are funded in part at the local level, the Governor's tax plan will put pressure on local property taxes by reducing state funds for these programs.

I support a fair tax system that doesn’t overburden business or property owners and one in which everyone pays their fair share. I also believe tax incentives should go to the job creators not the profit takers. For example, some car title loan companies prey on the poor and bank their money out of state. Why should they get tax-free status when the people, who are forced to borrow money from them at outrageous interest rates, have to pay income taxes?

I also believe we should not be taxing businesses on their losses. Why should people who are trying to start businesses be taxed on money they don’t make.

We should extend the provisions of the “Promoting Employment Across Kansas” act (PEAK) to include existing small businesses of 100 or fewer employees. This would allow a business that increases employment to keep 95% of the new employee’s state withholding tax for up to three years. This would reward businesses that contribute to the community by creating jobs, not just give every business, large or small, a tax break and hope jobs are created.

 

 

 

 

EDUCATION ISSUES

I support a quality public education from early childhood and beyond. I believe we should have accountability with adequate funding, while treating our teachers as the professionals that they are.

 

FUNDING:

I supported the equalized funding of public education this past session, but when, at the last minute, new provisions were added to the funding bill that had not been heard in committee or in either chamber, I, along with Senator Steve Abrams and almost a majority of Senators and Representatives, voted to send the bill back to conference committee. I was against allowing schools to hire uncertified teachers with no background checks, using public funds to allow corporations to provide scholarships for some students to attend private schools, eliminating a large amount of at-risk funding, eliminating some transportation funding for public schools and eliminating teacher due process. None of these actions guarantee a quality public education or were necessary to equalize funding.

I would bring funding for base state aid per pupil back to at least the level budgeted for 2008-2009 before the cuts. For more than fifteen years, schools have been promised that when the economy improves there will be increased State revenue for education. It is time to live up to that promise. School funding adjusted for inflation is below 1992 levels. Funding needs to be real and not just an accounting trick. Just because schools must now count KPERS contributions in their budgets and the State is now taking credit for the first 20 mills of local effort, doesn’t mean that schools have new money for classrooms. That is like your employer suddenly counting your pension and health insurance as salary and claiming you got a big raise, when you get the same amount as before.
The Governor did not increase spending for education, he just increased what you count for education.

I would also support and adequately fund the Career and Technical Education plan adopted in 2012 . I have always supported the concept that we should be funding the attainment of industry certifications as well as degree completion.

 

QUALITY ASSESMENT:

I favor a return to more realistic and meaningful state assessments. Schools should be accountable, but “No Child Left Behind” places impossible conditions on schools while not adequately measuring student growth. I am willing to listen to the debate surrounding the new Common Core Standards, but I do not approve of the misinformation being disseminated by “Kansans for Liberty”. Here are some things I believe people need to know when it comes to Common Core Standards:

  • They are not a federal mandate. “No Child Left Behind” is a federal mandate.

  • They were created by the Association of State Governors and the Council of State Chief Educational Officers, through a state compact.

  • States have chosen to adopt these standards because they are voluntary not manditory.

  • The idea behind the standards is to have states teach the same general concepts at the same grade level. For example, it is suggested that all states teach the concept of division at a specific grade level. Each state is free to decide what students should learn in regard to the concept and schools are free to decide how they will teach these concepts. This makes it much easier on children who are moved from school to school because of the business their parents are in or because they belong to military families.

  • States are free to set up their own testing standards.

  • Teachers actually have much more freedom than under “No Child Left Behind.” In Kansas teachers decide how a concept is taught. Common core standards do not dictate how a concept will be taught, just what skills the child should know at what level.

  • As a teacher of 33 years, as the Ranking Minority Member on the House Education Committee, and as a person who knows a large number of teachers, I have heard from no teachers who are opposed to the standards. No teacher who is currenly teaching testified against the standards in Topeka.

  • The U.S. Military and the Business Roundtable, a group of Fortune 500 companies, support the standards.

  • Since all states have the ability set up their own programs, some states take a different approach than Kansas. So, comparing states like New York to Kansas is like comparing apples to oranges. Bad examples from other states frequently could not or do not happen in Kansas.

 

 

 

 

LANDOWNER PROPERTY RIGHTS

Keeping in mind that we all must be good neighbors, I believe that all landowners deserve representation in any effort to control what they do with their land.

  • I have opposed the use of Eminent Domain to condemn property for a private entity simply because that entity can produce more economic growth with the land.

  • I also supported measures that protected non-productive agriculture land from being classified commercial land if used for recreational hunting.

  • I did not support a bill that would allow counties to take possession of blighted land to cover the cost of clean up.

  • Finally, I supported restrictions on annexation and required that cities provide services in a timely manner to any area of a county annexed by that city.

 

I was unhappy when I read in the paper that the Governor had waited until after the 2011 legislative session to declare the area south of Highway 400 and east of Highway 77 a “no wind” zone. Not one County Commissioner or State Representative in the five counties affected was consulted, nor were any of the landowners. Here is a copy of the text of the letter I composed and which Senator Abrams, Representative Kelley, and I sent to the Governor on behalf our my constituents:

“We were surprised to learn that eastern Cowley County, and for that matter most of Cowley County, had been included in the “Flint Hills Environmental Box” that will now be off limits to all but one new wind energy project. While a number of stakeholders from other parts of the State did work closely with your office, members of our Cowley County Commission, landowners in our area, our county administrator and our legislative delegation were not a part of any conversation or planning in regard to this issue in our part of the Flint Hills. Since our county commission had been in negotiations with Beyond Petroleum (BP) and county landowners to develop wind generation in northeastern Cowley County, the announcement came as a very disappointing revelation. What was more disappointing was to learn that conversations had been held with BP about an alternate site without the knowledge of any stakeholder from Cowley County.

The decision to include our area in the Flint Hills zone, which excludes wind energy, without any representation from Cowley County, appears to fly in the face of the concept of open and transparent government. Our legislative delegation was left to explain why we were left out of the decision making process. In the future and in the interest of fair representation, we would respectfully request that stakeholders in Cowley County be included in plans that will affect our region.”

Lastly, I believe the burden of taxation should not be shifted to the property owner as current policies are now doing. As WSU economist Ed Flentje points out:

  • “…. from 2010 to 2013, property taxes in rural counties increased three times faster than in the five largest urban counties. Property taxes for schools grew over five times faster in rural counties. Property tax increases for rural counties in this period may be summarized as follows: 

  • 71 counties had property tax increases of 10 percent or more;

  • 45 counties had property tax increases of 15 percent or more; and

  • 28 counties had property tax increases of 20 percent or more”.

The recent equalization formula for education funding did reduce many district's property taxes for the 2014 fiscal year, but that will be temporary considering the looming budget deficit.

 

 

 

 

 

BUDGET PRIORITIES

As a state we are at a critical point. With declining revenues and little if any economic growth we will soon be in a budget deficit. We need to re-think our priorities. Here are some of the budget priorities I will support.

1. Public education – I believe the cuts have been too deep. Restored funding should come from the general fund not increased property taxes. Kansas educators have maintained top 15 rankings in almost all educational categories but cannot continue to do more with less. Our budget must acknowledge the importance of a quality education for our children and how important it is to local economies. In many small communities, the school system is the largest employer. If schools are cut to the point of closing, many small towns will die. Teachers, administrators, secretaries, food service workers, bus drivers, maintenance workers, and custodians live in these local communities and spend their money there.

2. Home and Community Based Services - We should eliminate the waiting lists for the mentally, physically, and developmentally disabled, for veterans and for the frail and elderly. Funding to do this should come from Medicare, Medicaid, and growth in general fund revenues. These programs keep people in their homes and in the community while saving money in the long run. I also believe we need tighter regulation on the KanCare program which has seen repeated denial of legitimate claims, arbitrary changes in prescriptions, and extremely late payments to health care providers by the three insurance companies who administer the program.

3. Transportation - We should continue to fund the State transportation plan with money already allocated. It is a job creator and is essential for businesses to receive or transport goods. We should not fund other programs by borrowing from the highway fund. Small communities and counties depend upon money from KDOT (Kansas Department of Transportation) for street and road maintenance.

4. Efficiency - We should not continue to make across-the-board cuts to state agencies. Where there is waste and inefficiency we should take steps to make sure agencies are more efficient. Across the board cuts actually punish more efficient agencies of government the most because they are wisely using their funds but they receive the same % cut that the inefficient agencies get.

 

 

 

 

IMMIGRATION

As a State, we must make a decision. If we want to stop illegal immigration, we need to make sure that businesses do not knowingly and willingly hire undocumented workers. Jobs are the magnet for illegal immigration. If, however, we believe the Kansas Chamber of Commerce who says we need the labor, then we need to treat these immigrants and their children as human beings. We should not deny them education or health care. To do anything less would be economic slavery. Whatever our position, it should be morally consistent.

 

 

 

 

KANSAS PUBLIC EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM

As a member of the KPERS Study Commission I helped pass a 2012 bill that addresses the $9 billion unfunded liability in the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. It uses a combination of gaming revenue, increased employer contributions, and increased employee contributions (with a better end benefit) to eliminate the liability by 2033. In July of 2014, we got good news that the plan is working. We have reduced the unfunded liability by almost $500 million in just two years and we can look to a savings of about $1.2 billion over the next five years.

The reason the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System has had such a large liability is due to significant underfunding since 1992 and the poor economy. Retirees have been paying in 4% to 6% while the State has only been paying .6%. If the State had just paid the actuarial rate since 1992 we would not have a problem today. It is important to note that KPERS is a good plan but is not an overly rich benefit plan. Retirees in most cases will make about half of what they made when working.

 

 

 

 

HEALTH CARE ISSUES

As a State Representative, I could not vote for or against the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare). Some will argue that I supported Obamacare, because I voted against a proposed amendment that promised Kansas citizens they could ignore Obamacre. The amendment was defeated by a bipartisan effort in the House because it was a lie. State law or constitutional amendments cannot supersede federal law. I also voted against a bill that turned Medicare funding over to the State. Kansas has no department to administer the Medicare program so either an entirely new agency would have to be created or the money would have to be turned over to private insurance companies as it has been with Medicaid funds (KanCare), which has been a disaster. I could not vote for or against Obamacare, but I did vote to protect Medicare for seniors.

Every time the other side wants to talk about Obamacare, they are trying to get you to forget that this election is not about Washington, but about Kansas and what the Governor and his policies are doing to the Kansas economy.

We need to stop cutting the funding for programs like Healthy Schools that have been successful in reducing childhood obesity. We also need to be more active in creating safety net clinics for counties like Cowley and Sumner with large uninsured populations. These clinics can provide a low cost alternative to people using emergency room care, which is very expensive and raises health care costs for everyone.

We have long waiting lists for disabled persons and veterans to get home and community based services. Home and community based programs are much cheaper than institutionalized care. The choice is to pay for less costly care now or more expensive care later.

 

 

 

 

 

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

I believe religious freedom is the right of all Americans, but that it should not be used as an excuse for the government to discriminate against individuals or as a campaign tactic. This year’s religious freedom bill created a number of opportunities for discrimination against any number of different groups. It was such a bad bill, the Senate refused to even work the it.

The bill was so poorly written that it would have allowed government employees to discriminate against women and persons who were married in a non-Christian ceremony. This would have violated the Kansas Constitution in regard to two and possibly three of the four protected classes (Gender, Religion, Age or Ethnicity).

The argument that was used to justify the bill was that a wedding planner in Colorado refused to provide wedding services to a gay couple and was sued, thus, violating his religious freedom. Since marriage status is not a protected class in Kansas, a private business could not be sued for such a refusal. The example does not apply to Kansas. The bill did not change things for business but did allow government officials to discriminate against individuals because of their “gender” and “marriage status” and even possibly race. None of these terms were clearly defined in the bill.

It was clear that the bill was an example of what is referred to in Topeka as “Post Card” or "Gotcha" legislation. A vote against the bill would get the post card “John Doe is against Religious Freedom.” Please do not be persuaded by that tactic!

It is important that legislators and voters, alike, understand that a piece of legislation is more than just its title.

 

 

 

SECOND AMENDMENT

I believe law-abiding citizens have the constitutional right to own guns. I believe a recent Supreme Court decision makes the second amendment an individual right, just as the other amendments in the Bill of Rights are individual rights.

I voted to legalize conceal/carry in Kansas. I voted to re-affirm this second amendment right in Kansas by allowing weapons made in Kansas, which never leave the state, to be regulated by the state and not the federal government.

I also believe it is my job to represent the communities in my district. When community members, elected officials, local law enforcement officers and officials of colleges in my district asked me to continue to allow local entities to regulate weapons in court houses, city buildings and college dormitories, I believed it was my responsibility to listen to the wishes of my local communities. I voted to continue to allow that decision to be made at the local level.

 

 

 

LIFE ISSUES

I believe we have gone about as far as we can go in limiting abortions in Kansas without a change in federal law or a new federal court precedent. I also believe that being pro-life isn’t just about being pro-birth. That is why I promote early childhood programs, public education, and health care programs for all children. Many in the Legislature profess to be pro-life and then vote to cut any program relating the quality of life (children, developmental disabilities, veterans, seniors, public education).

I have never voted for abortion "on demand" without any consideration. I do believe that in cases of rape, incest, severe fetal abnormality or the health of the mother, the decision should be left to the family and a qualified physician, not the state.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This web page was created by Ed Trimmer
and paid for by the Ed Trimmer Campaign Fund
Kris Trimmer, Treasurer