The Governor provided an update on the state’s response to COVID-19 in her annual State of the State Address, the first week of the Legislative Session. Shortly after, it was announced Kansas would be moving into Phase 2 of vaccine distribution. The administration has developed a website dedicated to vaccine information in Kansas, www.kansasvaccine.gov. In addition, I encourage you to reach out to your local health department for information about what is happening locally and when you might be eligible to receive your vaccination. As a physician, I have received my vaccine and I encourage you to do the same.
One of the biggest issues facing Kansans during the pandemic has been unemployment, which has been made more difficult by the Department of Labor’s inability to properly and timely process claims and identify fraud. Many Kansans including those in our district have received fraudulent unemployment claims, which put their identities and the Kansas Unemployment Trust Fund at risk. It is disappointing that government has once again failed the people it serves. House Republicans have announced introduction of legislation that aims to hold public schools, universities, not for profits and businesses harmless from the fraudulent claims.
If you, or someone you know, receives an unemployment claim you believe to be fraudulent, please report it at: www.dol.ks.gov/fraud
Truth in Taxation
The Senate has passed and the House will be considered soon, legislation (SB 13) that will remove the current property tax lid, which actually raised taxes on Kansans by allowing for an automatic increase in the CPI index. Property taxes are high enough without government mandating unnecessary increases. Repealing the tax lid will restore local control and place some important requirements on taxing authorities to provide transparency to the public.
A look ahead
In the weeks ahead, the Legislature will no doubt deal with a variety of issues, perhaps none more important than our state budget, which is the Legislature’s only constitutional duty. The Governor released her proposed budget, which includes some things our community supports like constitutional funding for K-12 education, funding for economic development programs, and investments in public safety. However, it also heavily relies on budget maneuvers such as the reamortization of KPERS and the establishment of a sales tax on digital sales in order to balance. Those proposals aren’t likely to gain traction in the Legislature and I look forward to the opportunity to dive into the details of the budget and help set the budget priorities for our state.