PRAY FOR CHUCK!
With fresh perspectives about the size and scope of Kansas
Government, I'm asking tough questions and making the difficult decisions and votes on your behalf.
The 2017 Legislative Session is widely recognized as the most challenging in modern times. I fought against higher taxes and more spending every step of the way. Unfortunately, the innovative plan I helped create and promote that would have balanced the budget and paid our bills without a tax increase was rejected. Special Interest groups won. Raising taxes is the easiest vote any legislator can make. Unfortunately, that's what happened. It didn't have to be that way.
The chart below tells the story. Virtually every Kansan was hit with a massive and RETROACTIVE tax increase. Even with a $1.2 billion tax increase over two years, the Kansas Budget is expected to be underwater in less than two years. That's not even counting the potentially devastating ADDITIONAL tax increase coming as a result of the recent State Supreme Court ruling on K-12 school financing.
What happens next? Kicking the proverbial can down the road means our choices become even more difficult. To balance the budget we must cut spending by a whopping 20% across-the-board, OR raise taxes by massive amounts yet again. When will it stop?
My solution is simple, but not easy:
Stop spending money we don't have.
K-12 EDUCATION AND THE KANSAS SUPREME COURT
Last year the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that Public School funding across the state was "inadequate." More importantly--and largely ignored in press reports--the Court declared one-quarter of all Kansas students in our classrooms are failing. They were not getting the basic education tools of reading, writing and math that they deserve. We can and should do better for all students.
The 2017 Legislature tried mightily to satisfy the Court. The K-12 Budget Committee spent months and countless hours listening to stakeholders and citizens. This was a committee controlled by center-left lawmakers who crafted a plan that was basically a retread of the old, failed finance plan. Despite many deficiencies, I supported a House version of the plan with hopes we could find a solution. Unfortunately, I was unable to support the final version, even though my colleagues wanted it.
In the end, the State Supreme Court rejected even this highly expensive school finance plan. In essence, it's back to square one. The Supreme Court, in my opinion, greatly overreached and is taking the role of appropriator of funds--a role expressly reserved for the Legislature.
Despite what you have heard, a better education does not necessarily mean we need to spend massive new amounts of money. We are blessed in the 85th District to have many top shelf educators. I've reached out to get their ideas. Based on these conversations it is my contention--and that of many of my colleagues in Topeka--that the answer is getting more dollars to the classroom instead of spending it on more administration, bricks and mortar.
THE BUDGET, TAXES, MEDICAID EXPANSION AND MORE
A great many legislators pushed hard during the 2017 Session for increased spending on education, roads, Medicaid expansion and much more. Doling out Government-funded programs is the easy way out. The hard work comes from setting priorities. I am always mindful that spending more money means taking more money from your family paycheck. All promises come with a price tag. Who pays for all these promises? We do. You do.
In my many discussions with constituents I hear a common theme:
"I don't mind paying taxes, but I abhor government waste."
I couldn't agree more.
As a husband, father and head of a large household, my wife and I work hard to provide a quality of life for our family while staying within
a budget. We are both challenged and blessed to have a son with a disability and my widowed mother under our care relies on Medicaid assistance. We must work hard to find the right balance between taking care of the truly needy and making sure taxpayers get what they pay for. It's not easy. I accept the challenge.
A KANSAS CULTURE OF LIFE
Protecting the lives of the unborn, securing parental rights and making sure our children will enjoy this unique way of life is a key part of my legislative platform. This includes securing the safety net for those who truly need government assistance. The passage of "Simon's Law" which I co-sponsored means infants born with life-threatening diseases or conditions will get the medical assistance their parents desire. In short, their life will be valued as any other. New regulations on the Kansas abortion industry means mothers in crisis will be better informed about what is going to happen to them--and by whom.
The resolution I championed and carried on the House floor (HR 6016, passed 124-1) acknowledging pornography as a public hazard is a step forward toward doing what we can to protect society from human trafficking, sexual abuse and other crimes. Government cannot be the answer to these and many other challenges, but Government can and should play a role when it can and when it is appropriate.
RENEWING MY PLEDGE TO YOU
Before I took my oath of office and stepped foot onto the House floor last year as your State Representative, I pledged to bring with me the same common sense values my wife and I have used with our family at home. I promise to stay in tune with citizens of the 85th District. I trust you and ask that you let me know when you feel I'm not listening.
We may not always agree on every issue, but I will always listen.
Among the many things I've learned in this short time is that things are not always what that appear to be based on the perceptions of special interest groups, media reports and other agendas. I ask that you explore the facts. I want to be a resource for you. Test and challenge what I have to say. There is much to be done, and I am working hard each day on your behalf and for all citizens of Kansas.
I invite you to explore this web site and see where I stand on the issues. Let me know what you think. My email address is:
It is an honor to serve you.