Chat with 10th Kansas House District candidate TerriLois Gregory
July 29, 2010
This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.
TerriLois Gregory is running for the Republican nomination for the 10th Kansas House seat, which covers southeast Douglas County.
Hello and welcome to the LJWorld.com Election 2010 chat with TerriLois Gregory.
Good morning! Thank you to the LJW for hosting this chat and I applauded those voters participating for researching the candidates.
We have a couple questions already, but we're still taking more. If you have a question on your mind, please go ahead and submit it at any time the chat is going on.
With that, we'll jump right into questions.
I'm really suspicious of people running for office these days. It never seems like their motivations are what they say they are. Why are you running for the KS House, and what do you hope to accomplish for KS?
In my close association with the KS House over 6 years, I have an understanding for most of the legislative process and would be effective immediately. Being dissatisfied with the way you and I were being represented in Topeka moved me to file last January as a candidate for the Kansas House of Representatives, 10th District. Helpful legislation has was offered in the 2010 session to relieve the strain on our economy, but enough votes could not be garnered to pass the bills. It takes 63 votes to pass a bill. I would like to join with 62 other legislators to grow our economy and create jobs, improve education, and protect our families. I am running for this seat to serve the people of Douglas & Franklin counties.
TerriLois, good morning and thank you for taking time to chat this morning. My question relates to taking money from lobbyists. As I’m sure you know lobbyists are part and parcel of the political process these days. What is your plan for managing/working with lobbyists during your campaign and once elected?
Stan, thank you for participating.
I have tried to anticipate some questions and prepared my reply ahead of time to respond with a more complete answer due to time constraints. This is such an answer.
Signs, literature, palm cards and websites to get out my message all cost money. I don’t like asking for campaign contributions from anyone, but since I cannot self fund my campaign for $50,000 as my opponent has, I gratefully accept donations, and I am receiving a few more as each day passes. I’m not up to my needed funding level yet. As a consequence, I will finance part of my campaigns with help from Lobbyists.
Six years ago, I thought all Lobbyists were bad. But I've come to understand that Lobbyists are like guns. It is not the gun that is evil, but the way a person uses a gun might be evil. I've found that some lobbyists are using their influence for good things. Now interestingly, I seek out a lobbyist first when I want information. Just this week, I learned new facts in a conversation with a lobbyist for the medical profession. It is their job to have all the facts, statistics, and nice looking charts to convince you of their position. And when you talk to opposing sides, you get a well rounded picture of the issue.
In the past 6 years, I routinely heard my boss accused, “You’ve been bought by _______, with all their money!” It doesn’t matter who you fill in the blank, a Lobbyist is restricted to the same $500 maximum as you are, unless you are married, then you could write a check for $1,000. Lobbyists also have many more legal restrictions on them. I couldn’t even talk about my campaign with any Lobbyist until the 2010 Legislative session was done.
Even though some money will come from Lobbyists, I can say I'm beholden only to God. My votes will be determined by those who live in the district and share their views with me.
The web site of the Ethics Commission will soon show you who has contributed to me. www.Kansas.gov/ethics Without enough funds from individuals, some funds will come from Lobbyist. So if you don’t want me to accept any funds from a lobbyist, my mailing address is PO Box 105, Baldwin City KS 66006 and you may make your check out to “Gregory For KS Rep.” ;-)
Csn you tell us what specifically you would do, if elected, to encourage job growth in our communities?
This election is about jobs. While unemployment is at a 26 year high, more layoffs are announced almost every week and employers are struggling to keep their doors open, the majority of Representatives voted to pass a massive $300 Million tax increase. On average, that tax increase will take $30 extra out of every Kansas family’s monthly budget – whether employed or not. I believe that is simply the wrong path to take.
Gov. Rick Perry from Tx "Economy grows when they are free from over taxation, over regualtion, over litigation, and they have a skilled work force. Gov't isn't difficult in theory. Don't spend all the money, keep taxes low, have a fair & predicatable regulatory climate, keep frivolous to minimum and fund an accountable education system so that you have a skilled work force available. Then get the h--l out of the way and let the private sector do what the private sector does best."
That sums up my thoughts!
What do you think about the Developmental Disabilities Waiting List?
Our DD list is a disgrace to our state. We need to support the neediest, who no fault of their own, could be helped to live a productive self supporting life if intervention was offered in time. Our current Rep voted against several different funding possibilities for their services this past session. We only eliminated about 1/3 of the list this year and I will work to get full funding next session.
What about KPERS
For the well foreseeable future, KPERS retirees will be fine and receiving checks. However, with the current system and the current economy, it is true that KPERS, in the long-term, is already a greatly unfunded liability. It is a grave concern. The state has made a promise to its retirees and it must strive to find a solution to keep the fund from going bankrupt down the road. Right now, analysts predict that is "far" down the road, but we cannot and should not count on that. It makes sense to keep the promise made to those in the system, but a restructuring of the program for future entrants into KPERS is a necessity if it is to have any solvency for anyone.
we all know that the unemployment fund ran out of money this past year. What most Kansans do not know is that there were problems with the management of the fund previously (as stated by the Legislative Post Audit), and while those problems didn't create the entire burden on the system, they aggravated it greatly. We need to ensure ALL funds are managed correctly.
TerriLois, jrk’s comment about job growth is important. The flip side of the job growth coin is taxes. KS has punitive tax rates across the board with more increases on the way. KS just raised sales taxes by “only 1 cent” but in fact that’s an increase of around 18%. This impacts every Kansan (especially the poor) with each purchase they make. We are in the middle of a recession and the state is increasing our tax burden. What are YOU going to do about getting Kansas’ spending under control AND reducing taxes?
Jobs, employment, getting Kansans back to work - did I mentions Jobs?
You raise an excellent question and another I anticipated. You are correct about the increase, and the impact on the economy. To put a finer point on it, as a result of the new tax hike, QT bulldozed their store, moved 100 yards into MO, and rebuilt their store. KS lost $1.4 million in taxes on just that ONE business.
When 70% of Kansas population boarders against another state, Kansas purchasing power goes out of state. When Kansas businesses cannot sell their products and services, owners fire their employees and do it themselves, or close up shop. We cannot keep shooting ourselves in the business foot if we are to have jobs to offer our graduates from our wonderful schools. Our graduates and citizens will become expatriates to states where employment is possible. But if we grow our economy, having more people back to work serves a two fold benefit; the influx of revenue from worker’s incomes and reduced drain on unemployment charges.
State spending has outpaced tax receipts for years. We had almost a billion dollars in CASH reserves just a few short years ago. We have not only spent that, but an additional billion more. Spending increased 48% from 2004 through 2008 during the same time inflation increased only 13% and population was stagnate at less than ½ of 1% increase. State aid per pupil is 18% higher than 2005 and total aid per pupil is 26% higher than 2005 ($12,225.00 per pupil.)
This bill grew our budget by almost $200 million, in a recession. And Kansas has a VERY bad track record of enforcing the sunset of a tax once implemented. Every Kansan, man, woman, and child is in debt to the tune of $18,000; add the federal deficit and you owe $64,000. We are destroying our children’s financial future by the minute.
The Tax Foundation ranked Kansas 40th in Corporate Taxes for 2009 in the US. In comparison to regional taxes, we have the 2nd highest personal income tax rate, corporate income tax rate, gasoline tax rate, and now the highest sales tax rate - even surpassing Chicago! It is no wonder businesses drive down I-35 to TX where there is no corporate or personal income tax.
No teacher should ever have to buy her own classroom supplies. Adequate funding to the classroom is a priority to me. To have adequate funding, we need adequate streams of revenue. To have adequate streams of revenue, we need Kansas citizen’s working and a healthy environment for business to success and also to draw in new business investments (more jobs). Children are the future of our state, and education will always need to be a focal point in our budget. But my concern spans past a short sighted quick fix sales tax for one budget year.
I will work to repeal the tax hike and take more integrated, common sense approach. There are duplicative goverment services that we can combine, there are assets we can sell that are non-income producing (and actually cost the taxpayers), there are third party services that help us find "breaks" in our systems to recover money... the possibilities aren't endless, but they are many. Shall we talk more about this? I have only skimmed the surface on what can be done to fill revenue shortfalls.
You also bring up a point that we need to talk more about - you mentioned punitive tax, especially on the poor. You're right. This tax means about $30 less in every family's monthly budget. That means $30 less for food, gas, needs for the children - that's no small amount in this economy where goods have gone up and salaries have stayed rather stagnant. But think about the impact on those poorer families... if they were barely making it before, they may now seek out state services, and state services cost money - money that we already do not have. It's a nonsensical cycle that, without remedy, will drive KS into deeper debt.
What would you specifically do to fix the unemployment fund?
jlarance85 Thank you for asking. That's a good and tough question. Good minds across Kansas are working on it.
Currently, there is a "freeze" on employer contributions to help them shore up the increased funds they will be asked to pay in the near future. That is not a fix and it's only a short term relief valve. The formula for assessing this tax on a business needs work, but it won't change overnight - however, we will work on it.
If you've talked to businesses, you'll find that some of those who are given unemployment are awarded for reasons that most Kansans wouldn't agree with (i.e. an employer was a few days late responding, so they were assessed for an employee who resigned to start their own business, but failed at it. The reason the department stated for paying? The employer was a few days late filing their response.) That's probably not a great use of the money... it is meant for employees who, usually through no fault of their own, lose their jobs. There are exceptions, but I've talked to enough employers to find that the release of these funds is quite liberal. I think one of the post audit reports also points to problems in the system.
The benefits side also needs work. Currently, with the correct mix of circumstances, employment benefits can run in excess of, I believe, 85+ weeks. There is a tipping point where incentive to look for jobs is lost (and that comes directly from some unemployed folks I've talked to who say it's just easier to collect the check). We have to be thoughtful and compassionate to those who have lost their job through no fault of their own, but we have to be fair and reasonable to the businesses that pay in so that we actually have funds when they are needed.
So, to sum it up, I'd help work on the formula and benefits side to ensure a balance between employer and employee, and a better dispensing of the funds already available. Of course, much of this is up to the department's discretion, but we can work on helping direct through proper policy that balances both sides of the equation.
We still have more questions, but unfortunately we've run out of time. TerriLois, thanks for joining us today. Do you have any closing comments?
Thank you LJW for inviting me to participate today.
In this race for who will represent you next year, you have a clear choice – a Representative with a voting record of increasing state spending and promoting higher taxes, or someone who will watch your wallet in Topeka. I stand for limited government intervention in your life. Advanced voting has begun at the Douglas County Courthouse and Election Day is next Tuesday, August 3rd. I would appreciate your support when you vote.
Thank you to our veterans and God Bless Kansas.
Thanks to everyone who submitted questions. Remember, advanced voting is going on now and election day is just around the corner: Aug. 3. We have one more chat scheduled, with gubernatorial candidate Tom Holland, tomorrow at 11 a.m. To submit a question in that chat, visit LJWorld.com/chats. Thanks again to everyone who joined us today.