Help for business is coming from the Kansas Legislature in 2011, but where and how much still remains a little vague, said the lobbyist for the Wichita Independent Business Association.
Natalie Bright, a contract lobbyist for the association for 12 years, told association members Tuesday that the Legislature and governorship will be considerably more conservative in the 2011 session, following last week's elections.
In the upcoming session, look for a strong desire to cut income taxes by conservatives, including new Gov. Sam Brownback, she said. However, the Legislature is expected to confront a budget gap of nearly $500 million that is now being filled by federal stimulus funds.
The stimulus money goes away in fiscal 2012. Legislators will face a budget in which more than half of the money goes to fund education — something Brownback said he wants to protect.
As far as proposals floating around to shrink the size of the state government, she said there have been rumors that the Department of Labor and the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corp. could be moved into the Department of Commerce, but those remain rumors.
There has been talk of repealing the sales tax passed last session, she said, but she said that appears less likely because it would enlarge the budget gap.
But Brownback is committed to re-examining the state's tax structure, she said, with an eye to reducing the individual income tax.
The Brownback administration has also said it is interested in re-examining the school funding formula to make it more cost effective, and less expensive, she said.
She also expects there to be action on two topics of interest to small-business owners: unemployment insurance and workers' compensation.
The unemployment insurance trust fund is in debt to the federal government by about $80 million, she said. The state's trust fund has started to refill this year, but she expects the Brownback administration to back changes to the fund.
On workers' compensation, she said, conservative legislators will push to make the rules more favorable to employers, she said.