Sales tax – It was good news that state tax revenue outstripped estimates in December. The best showing was made by the individual income tax. After the 2012 cuts, however, revenue from that tax will not grow in 2013. To cope with this situation, Gov. Sam Brownback may ask lawmakers to extend the “temporary” 1 percent sales tax that is scheduled to expire this year. The Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity, both Koch-backed, say they will support an extension if the money is used to further reduce income taxes. This is an irresponsible position. If the governor is going to ask for a sales-tax extension, it should be to balance the state’s budget and keep education and social services intact, not further reduce income taxes.
Winfield Daily Courier
Kansas chamber – The Kansas Chamber of Commerce, along with the cozy-with-the-governor group Americans for Prosperity, proclaimed that this year it will be “proactive” and get its agenda passed – thanks to the defeat of those Senate “roadblocks.” Kansans should be concerned about a group that has gotten nearly everything it ever wanted yet still cries that it has been marginalized and unfairly ignored.
Guns on campus – In the wake of the recent mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, the chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents predicted another heated battle in the Kansas Legislature over allowing concealed guns to be carried on university campuses across the state. The overriding goal of any discussion about weapons is to try to increase the safety of people in Kansas and throughout the nation. While some advocates are certain that having more weapons in more locations will accomplish that goal, university officials and others are right to push back and offer other alternatives.
NBAF – The Department of Homeland Security’s acquisition, through a land-transfer agreement with the state, of 46 acres of land north of Kansas State University is a significant step forward in plans to build a National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility at Manhattan. A major step forward would be congressional appropriation of sufficient funding to complete the research lab. Manhattan was selected as the site for the new research lab in 2008, near the end of President Bush’s administration, and here we are in 2013 and DHS is just now formally accepting the site, although it has invested more than $125 million in the lab.
Justice snub – Incoming Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick has denied a request by the state’s chief justice to present the annual State of the Judiciary report to a joint session of the Legislature. Lawmakers have better things to do with their time, says Merrick, a Republican from Stilwell. Actually, with nearly one-third of the incoming members of the House and Senate new to state government, a speech about the workings of the judiciary would be a very good use of time. New members are likely to hear a distorted view from conservative Republicans, who falsely portray the judiciary as running amok. It would be good for them to listen to the chief justice explain how Kansas courts work and what their current challenges and priorities are. By refusing to allow Chief Justice Lawton Nuss a platform for an address, Merrick is being disrespectful and small-minded.
Kansas City Star