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County chair says 'state reps think we're stupid'

Staff writer

Marion County Commission Chairman Dan Holub has had it with area state legislators after a question-and-answer session Saturday at the community center in Marion.

Holub was critical of the responses given by Representative John Barker and State Senator Richard Wilborn to various issues raised, including the budget shortfall that has Kansas hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.

“It’s not going to get fixed because they don’t want to fix it; that’s what I got out of it,” Holub said. “They’re happy with it as is.”

Holub and several citizens of Marion County, including Marion City Administrator Roger Holter and USD 408 Superintendent Lee Leiker, raised a multitude of issues and concerns, from the concealed carry law passed recently to school funding to the Keystone Pipeline.

Holub said the budget shortfall that is causing cuts in many areas is putting pressure on local governments to raise taxes. Holub said income tax exemptions for businesses that collect pass-through profits are costing the state millions, though legislators refuse to blame the current shortfall on said exemptions.

“They don’t even know if they’re working,” Holub said. “If it’s all working, why are we having the budget crisis?”

As far as solving the budget crisis, Holub said Rep. Barker told him “if you know how to do it, let me know.”

Holub said he wasn’t optimistic, that positive steps would be taken to fix the issues raised at the meeting.

“I was upset when I walked out of there,” he said. “They keep acting like this. They’re taking us for granted. They think we’re stupid.”

Others that attended the meeting, like Holter, were impressed with the legislators’ willingness to come hear the concerns of constituents.

“We feel like we’ve got good representation for Marion County at the state level,” Holter said. “They always have to make tough votes, but these are gentlemen that genuinely reach out to their constituent base before they make a decision.”

That legislators were there to hear out constituents didn’t lessen Holter’s concerns.

Holter said the consensus of forum participants was that the business exemptions need to be addressed.

“They’re basically costing the state in excess of 600 million dollars a year in tax exemptions that are being offered to out-of-state and, in some cases, out-of-country business owners.”

Holter said a proposal that would increase property tax for farmland by 473 percent isn’t likely to go forward this year.

Margaret Wilson of Marion voiced concerns to the legislators regarding the new conceal-and-carry gun law that was recently signed.

“As a woman and as a mother and as a person that cares for children, I am terrified of the gun ordinance that was passed,” she told legislators. “Guns with no training, no registration, no documentation, in the hands of any Joe off the street terrifies me.”

Marvin Peterson, a former game warden of 31 years, agreed with her.

“As a game warden, 75 percent of the people you deal with are armed,” he said. “I’m not real impressed with everybody being able to strap a gun on and go to town.”

Wilson said that while the legislators were gracious and tried their best to answer questions, it “doesn’t feel like we’re being heard.”

“I wanted some rationalization and I received none,” she said. “I was disappointed.”

Last modified April 1, 2015

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