Each legislative session, we provide Shawnee Mission area legislators the opportunity to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. Rep. Jerry Stogsdill, Rep. Susan Ruiz and Sen. John Skubal are scheduled to send updates this week. Rep. Stogsdill’s column is below.
When I took office in January of 2017 the state of Kansas was still suffering under the fiscal policies and inept management of government by the Brownback administration. The state was on the verge of bankruptcy, we were operating our schools under an unconstitutional school finance plan, failure to expand Medicaid was costing the state billions of dollars, services for our most vulnerable children were in collapse and we were robbing our transportation funds and missing KPERS payments in order to cover general budget shortfalls. Kansas was a mess. So much so that Kansans had elected over 50 new legislators, including myself. to go to Topeka and start cleaning up the mess.
I successfully ran for the Kansas House of Representatives based on the promise I made to my constituents that I would focus my efforts on doing away with the disastrous Brownback “tax experiment”, restoring full funding for our public schools under a constitutional school finance formula and supporting the expansion of Medicaid in Kansas.
At the time, I think there was hope, but also a lot of skepticism, that any of those promises could be kept. I am happy to report that by working with my Democratic colleagues, a number of moderate Republicans and the election of Democratic Governor Laura Kelly we have accomplished two of those three goals and it looks like we have a very good chance of accomplishing the third goal this session. Let’s see where we are at the beginning of the 2020 session.
- Tax Policy: In 2017 we were able to form a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans and we were able to end the Brownback “tax experiment” and return Kansas back toward financial stability. Not only were we able to enact legislation that overturned the Brownback plan we were able to override Brownback’s attempt to veto that legislation. That was a landmark day for the state of Kansas.
- School Finance: In the 2019 session of the Legislature, with the support of pro public education Governor Kelly, we were again able to put together a Democratic and moderate Republican majority that allowed us to pass legislation that ended years of underfunding and attacks on our public schools. The new plan ended years of court challenges and finally passed constitutional scrutiny by the Kansas Supreme Court.
- Medicaid Expansion: Not expanding Medicaid has cost Kansas billions in federal tax dollars that could have been returned to Kansas to cover the medical costs for 150,000 of our most vulnerable working Kansans and their children, helped put many of our hospitals on sound financial footing, stimulated our economy and created thousands of new and good paying jobs. I am proud to say we have passed Medicaid expansion in the House twice but the Senate, under ultra conservative Republican leadership, has rejected our efforts on both occasions. This session it looks like we may have a promising yet fragile bipartisan coalition in both the House and the Senate that may have the votes to pass Medicaid Expansion and a Governor who will sign the legislation when put on her desk.
There has been good progress made in turning Kansas around over the last three years, but, there is still a LOT of work to do to return Kansas to a position of financial stability, economic prosperity and rebuilding our reputation to a place national prominence. There are still a number of Brownback leftovers who will be working to take us back to the failed policies and programs of that administration.
This year we are going to need the attention, involvement and votes of the people of Kansas if we are going to keep Kansas on the path to recovery. We need to make sure we pass Medicaid expansion and we don’t falter on our support of fair tax policy and our public schools. There will also be a number of other issues of vital importance to Kansans that we will be dealing with this session. I will be working on many of these issues through my assignments to the Federal and State Affairs Committee, Tax Committee and Education Committee. People can follow my work and votes on these committees by going to kslegislature.org.
I will also be keeping my constituents informed through this column on the Shawnee Mission Post, my Facebook page, Rep. Jerry Stogsdill for Kansas, my web site, JerryforKansas.com and in regular forums that I will be announcing and holding in my District throughout the Session. I also encourage my constituents to contact me with any questions or suggestions they may have at [email protected] or 913-579-9208.