Legislative Session Preview
Lawmakers return to Topeka for the start of the 2022 Kansas Legislative Session on Monday, January 10, with a record ending balance of $4.2 billion in the State General Fund. With tax revenues drastically exceeding estimates every month this fiscal year, expect to see some tension around how that money is spent. From expanding state government programs to providing tax cuts to their constituents during an election year, legislators are coming back with their ideas and proposals in hand.
Governor Laura Kelly has cautioned the Legislature to not overspend this legislative session, warning that much of the excess revenue was one-time federal stimulus dollars that came to Kansas during the pandemic. She has, however, proposed a $900 million tax cut plan that includes elimination of Kansas’ 6.5% sales tax on food. That is estimated to cost the state $450 million. The other $445 million would be given as a $250 per taxpayer bonus this spring. The Governor’s State of the State address will be on Tuesday, January 11 at 6:30 p.m.
Both House and Senate Tax Committee chairs have indicated a desire to clean up Kansas’ tax code, so a special, joint committee met in November for a “deep dive” in preparation for the 2022 legislative session. Two of the main recommendations to come out of that interim meeting include removing all unused tax credits and deduction programs currently in statute and developing a statewide energy policy plan that establishes equal and fair taxation across all segments of energy production. We also expect to see introduction of a constitutional amendment that caps annual government spending increases and requires a two-thirds majority vote to raise taxes.
Other issues that were gearing up for primetime during much of the interim include reapportionment of congressional and state legislative districts, responding to vaccine mandates on businesses coming down from the federal government, and distribution of SPARK funds for local economic recovery from the pandemic. Continued efforts toward expanding Medicaid and school choice programs could also be on the agenda.
With the Governor, Attorney General, and all 125 House Representatives up for reelection this year, there will be added pressure onto lawmakers looking for positive votes on which they can campaign.
With COVID cases on the rise again, there’s some uncertainty around Statehouse protocol. All committee rooms are fully capable for audio and visual streaming, and procedures are set for virtual participation from the public if necessary. There’s been no talk of social distancing or mask requirements in the building. For now, it appears to be business as usual.
As we start 2022, we look forward to continuing to represent our clients under the dome and will keep you informed as these issues and more unfold throughout the session. Happy New Year!