This past weekend, I participated in legislative updates in Hays and Ellis along with receiving briefings and toured the wildfire damage in Ellis and Rooks counties. We owe a debt of gratitude to our volunteer firefighters, first-responders and other volunteers and staff who did a tremendous job in working the fire and protected people and property. Our thoughts and prayers also go out to the other counties who suffered losses of livestock, fences and buildings last week. At the time of this writing, all the fires have been contained, and the cleanup and assessments are now starting. The outpouring of support from the areas not directly affected have been truly heartwarming, and it continues to strengthen us as a state and nation that neighbors continue to help neighbor in times of need.
In the Tax Committee, I introduced HB 2387, which is working its way through the legislative process. This bill would enact a sales tax exemption for certain properties destroyed by wildfires in 2017, much like the bill that was passed last year in response to the Anderson Creek fires in south-central Kansas.
If you would like to support the efforts of recovery, here are a few places to start: The Kansas Livestock Association (kla.org) and Kansas Farm Bureau (kfb.org).
This past week, the Appropriations Committee has been finalizing Budget Committee recommendations. The committee received its last report Monday and will begin to assemble the Mega Appropriations bill after that. The committee also has received efficiency study updates from the Budget Committees. These updates report what Alvarez and Marsal projected for savings on the 105 recommendations in the study, specifically those in the purview for that committee. The updates note whether the recommendations have been implemented, if any savings have been realized and the amount realized, and any further comments from the Budget Committees.
The process also has begun on formulating a school finance funding formula. The Education Budget Committee received a briefing on the recent Gannon IV ruling. The committee also continued looking at an important piece of school funding, at-risk funding. The committee heard from the Kansas State Department of Education and Legislative Post Audit. KSDE provided the costs associated with at-risk funding. Legislative Post Auditís analysis described and evaluated the two measures for at-risk funding, free lunch and Census based poverty counts. There will be several ideas on how to fund education in Kansas, the hope is something that will satisfy the adequacy portion of the Kansas Supreme Courtís ruling.
Ken Radjes, R-Agra, represents the 110th District in the Kansas House.