Representative Susan Concannon met with constituents at Kettle in Beloit on Wednesday evening to address them and answer questions. Approximately 40 people took the opportunity to attend the event.
Mary Jane Chapman, on behalf of Leadership Mitchell County, introduced Representative Concannon to the group.
Concannon expressed, in this past legislative session, there were many new members in both the House and Senate. There was also a new Speaker of the House. She believed that the infusion of new blood helped the legislature take action to begin reversing the downward trend from the past few years.
Concannon announced that she had returned to her favorite committee, the Health Committee. She is also is also Chair of the Majority House Caucus. Additionally, she is on the Interim Committee on Health and the KanCare Oversight Committee.
She reviewed the tax policy of Governor Sam Brownback. In 2012 he pushed through a policy of tax cuts for Kansas LLC business owners. His belief was that these cuts would result in business owners reinvesting the money into the state’s economy. Therefore, creating more jobs and stimulating that economy. However, very little of the money given in tax breaks has been reinvested in the state according to studies and reports.
Since the inception of Brownback’s tax policies, Kansas has fallen farther behind in terms of covering its expenses and liabilities. Services to Kansans have been cut. Some departments providing services to Kansans have been eliminated. The Kansas Department of Transportation budget has been raided several times for bailout money. This has left some roads in Kansas neglected in terms of maintenance.
Children in the foster care system are lost. Currently ,70 kids are unaccounted for. The State Mental Hospital in Osawatomie is outdated and unable to provide comprehensive care for the mentally ill. The state is very much in need of replacing the old facility with a new one, according to Concannon.
The Kansas State Penitentiary at Lansing was built during the Abraham Lincoln Administration. It is decades past needing to be upgraded or replaced. Recently the Kansas Supreme Court rendered a decision that the school finance formula passed by the House and Senate last spring was unconstitutional. According to the state’s high court, the state must provide an additional $500 to $800 million to correct the inequality.
Concannon said the legislature is looking for the right mix of sales tax, property tax, and income tax changes. She encouraged anyone to contact her with any questions they might have. She realizes that nobody likes to see their taxes go up, but she said there are many necessary services that the citizens of Kansas desire. She called it a difficult balancing act.