While several lawmakers attempt to explain their reasoning behind voting for the largest state tax increase in state history and an expanded spending package during the session that ended June 26, Rep. Francis Awerkamp, in a newsletter, is giving his constituents insight into the legislative process.
He says meetings between leadership and lobbyists in the weeks leading up to the tax vote “…ranged from calm presentations to heated arguments and included some interesting statements. One Republican, when openly questioned on his Republican principles, casually distanced himself from the Kansas Republican Party Platform, stating that he was a “Traditional Republican”; another Republican essentially argued that a business owner has no right to the profits earned by their business; another Republican Senator dismissed the tax increase as insignificant, citing the example of a family making $100,000 per year, stating that the family would “gladly pay” the additional $90 tax per month,”
Awerkamp goes on to say. “Many legislators see government as a perfectly efficient entity, with no need to change. Some even claim that increased taxes and government spending positively improve both the economy and the common good. ‘To the victor go the spoils,’ and last November’s elections produced as one long-time Republican said, ‘a legislature similar to the Sebelius days.’ However, even conservatives voted in strange ways, including one who reluctantly supported the veto override on the tax bill saying, ‘I hate this Bill, but I love our leadership.’ It was an interesting year in the Legislature.”
Awerkamp, a St. Mary’s Republican, voted against the tax increase, the budget, and the school finance formula.
“I chose to avoid political games to the greatest extent possible; I voted as I promised I would when I campaigned,” he writes.
The school finance bill reuses an old formula. The budget increases state spending by more than $500 million over three years, and the tax hike included a retroactive income tax.
“Many legislators, lobbyists, and media lauded these bills and celebrated this growth of government as a great victory for Kansas. I voted against each of these bills because, in fact, they represent a great victory for government growth,” Awerkamp says.
The Legislature is in recess until 2018. Awerkamp says he will write newsletters on the KPERS, the education formula and state healthcare programs during the break.