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Our voice in Topeka

Representative of District 70

The 2010 session began Monday and Governor Parkinson delivered the State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate. My column deadline is Monday a.m., so I cannot share with you the Governor’s thoughts. I hope you listened to the address or can find it on the Internet after the fact, if you have that available.

As you might suspect, the budget will again be the big cloud looming over us all throughout the session. There will be those who intend to simply cut more from the state budget to balance it; some who believe a spending increase is not only warranted, but essential; and some of us who believe the taxing mechanism of Kansas is out of balance and desperately needs re-aligning, which could raise taxes for some and lower or not touch others. If taxes are raised, I predict not a property tax raise, but possibly one on specific items, such as cigarettes and beer; and I’d predict some currently authorized tax cuts, exemptions on credits being frozen or rolled back until we are out of these tough economic times. If we only cut the current budget, what do you intend we cut? In the upcoming weeks, I will expound on some of the major financial conflicts we have.

I read an interesting article about a Washburn University professor of economics observing that in discussing state spending we must not simply look at the checkbook, the state general fund, to view and consider our spending priorities. He states that all money transactions must be treated as spending items. He states the term “state spending” really includes tax cuts, tax credits — whether already granted or those now proposed — and tax exemptions already granted or proposed, because all of these have the effect of spending money. Spending also includes all other real spending that is not part of the state’s general fund, like issuing government bonds for specific projects and automatically authorized spending and fees. He states that only then can we analyze our priorities, only then can we see what we have committed to, only then can we address the issues. Makes sense to me.

I hope you will follow my column this year. While I cannot write about everything we do, I will try to keep you abreast of those matters that seem of particular importance to me, to the 70th District, and to Kansans in general.

It is an honor to serve you as your State Representative, please contact me with you feedback — your ideas, support, and your objections. I cannot represent you well if I am in a vacuum.

You may e-mail me at Brookens70@sbcglobal.net or write me at either 201 Meadow Lane, Marion, or at Kansas State Capitol Building, 300 SW 10th St, Topeka KS 66612. If you are coming to Topeka, call me, for now call me at (620) 382-2133, and they’ll get me the message, I don’t have my new phone number yet.

Last modified Jan. 14, 2010

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