Q. If elected, what will be your top three priorities for this office?
A. Fairness in property taxes. Exemptions in the classification amendment to the constitution caused an unfair shift of the burden to real estate taxes on homes and small businesses.
Revenue to fund education and social services. Economic development legislation was enacted to increase wealth and thereby increase tax collections. Six years later the state is faced with a fiscal crisis.
Revision of the School District Equalization Act. Although we do not yet have enough information to determine changes in district wealth according to reappraisal, the state is faced with lawsuits for violating equalization in state aid to local school districts.
Q. Do you support action on the part of the state to reduce property taxes? How would you propose to make up lost revenues if property taxes are reduced?
A. There are two ways to reduce the heavy reliance of local government on real estate taxes. One is to increase state aid to local school districts. Local option sales and income taxes are not the answer. In most parts of the state those taxes produce relatively little revenue. Any increase in sales and income taxes should be statewide, going into the state general fund for education and other social services.
The other way is to broaden the local property tax base. A constitutional amendment to repeal exemptions would bring fairness to property taxes. Localities have the power to restore the property tax on intangibles to further broaden the base.
Q. What restrictions, if any, should be placed on abortion in Kansas?
A. Few restrictions can be placed on abortion by state legislatures unless the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. The issues before the Kansas Legislature have been parental consent or notification and restrictions on abortions at the KU Medical Center.
The parental proposals are absurd. Minors affected would be those who have no parents. To avoid lawsuits, doctors who perform abortions already require parents or guardians of minors to be present and to pay the costs.
Restrictions at the medical center would be legislative interference with teaching.
Q. The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services is facing increased demands on its resources. How will the state be able to handle those demands? Do you think added tax revenues are needed, do you think eligibility requirements for some services need to be tightened, do you think some programs need to be eliminated or do you think no changes are needed?
A. In times of recession tax collections fall, SRS case loads increase, and recession is a poor time to raise taxes.
If there is not a recession the Legislature will probably be considering a sales tax increase, either by increasing the rate or broadening the base by repealing some exemptions on services. Higher income tax brackets should take precedence over any sales tax increase.
Eligibility requirements have already been tightened and programs have been eliminated or simply not funded.
Q. What do you think is the most pressing problem facing state universities? Do you think state universities are adequately funded, particularly in regard to faculty salaries?
A. The most pressing problem facing state universities is attracting and keeping the best faculty members, graduate teaching assistants and graduate research assistants. The Margin of Excellence was designed to bring faculty salaries up to the level of peer institutions. The governor did not include the third year of the Margin in his budget this year. Attempts to raise the money by increasing taxes on tobacco products failed. Margin funding and fee waivers for teaching assistants and research assistants are crucial.