2010 Session: 9th Week

Dear Constituents,

The next two weeks here in Topeka should prove to be very interesting and exciting as we are preparing to spend most of our time on the floor of the house. Our committees will be wrapping up bills with hearings and perhaps sending out a few more bills for debate by the 125 members. However, the main focus will be on the budget. The next two weeks we expect to have lively debate on the House and Senate floors possibly on a budget bill and tax bills. There are several proposals in the works to increase taxes of various types, but it remains to be seen which, if any, survive the floor debate and what they may look like when the day has ended.

We typically have two large budget bills each session. The first is called the mega budget before we recess the end of March, and the second is the omnibus budget before final adjournment the first part of May. The mega budget is being put together now and will contain the best information we currently have to put into revenue and expenditure proposals. It is the first comprehensive look at what the priority expenditures for the legislature are for 2011. A common phrase I’ve heard is “let’s wait until omnibus” but most bills have little or no fiscal impact so far and very few people are talking about adding money to the budget.

After the revenue estimators meet in April, we will be able to build the omnibus budget. Based on the latest revenue information, we can make a better determination of additional adjustments to programs that may be needed to balance the budget before final adjournment in May. Any corrections or adjustments needed to the mega budget that was passed earlier can be made in the omnibus budget. Solving the fiscal issues of the State in today’s economy will require either additional cuts to programs or tax increases. We cannot maintain programs without increasing taxes, or maintain taxes at the same level without cutting programs. These two go hand-in-hand. The State of Kansas is fortunate to have a balanced budget requirement in the State Constitution. As we know from the national news – the United States Government doesn’t have this requirement thus the huge national debt we are living with and sadly passing down to our descendants.

My Commerce and Labor and Fed and State committees heard fairly non-controversial bills this past week. Although this week was light, both of these committees will be packed next week with conferees and large audiences on two bills – the sales of liquor in Kansas grocery stores and HB 2144 Community Defense Act - regulating adult businesses in the state.

The Ag and Natural Resource heard statutorily required informational hearings from Grain Commodity Commissions. Several interesting facts were as follows: The crops in Kansas had a very good year in 2009 – corn produced a record yield of 155 bushels per acre resulting in harvesting over 598 million bushels of corn breaking the 2007 record. The US produces about 40 percent of the world’s corn crop using only 20 percent of the total area harvested in the world. Sorghum ranks Kansas first nationally again with growing 58.6 percent of the nation’s total sorghum crop. The top five markets for US Hard Red Winter Wheat are Nigeria, Mexico, Iraq, Japan and Brazil. Kansas wheat farmers produced 368 million bushels of wheat - 53 million bushels more that FY 2008. The reports also contain each commission’s budget and how the groups use the dollars from the voluntary assessment (check-off) per bushel collected during harvest.

Steve Bryant from Concordia spent part of his Monday last week in Topeka for the Kansas Optometric Association visiting with myself and Senator Taddiken. Dr. Bryant will be the President of this group next year. It was my honor to have Alex Farr from Bennington High School shadow me on Tuesday. He is with the gifted program and came along with a group of students to work with us for the day. He attended all of my committees with me, sat in on session and had the opportunity to meet the Governor.

Rep. Elaine Bowers
Phone 1-800-432-3924
Kansas State Capitol
Room: 54-S
300 SW 10th St.
Topeka, Kansas 66612
Phone: 785-296-7642
Email: elaine.bowers@house.ks.gov