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Archive for Sunday, April 28, 2002

A busy wrap-up for legislators

April 28, 2002

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Kansas lawmakers face various remaining issues in the days ahead as they try to wrap up the 2002 legislative session. Among the work yet to be completed:

Redistricting

Once a decade, the Legislature uses new population statistics to redraw district lines so that districts are of even population. The House and Senate have adopted different boundaries for the state's four congressional districts.

 The House plan would split Lawrence, roughly along Iowa street, leaving eastern Lawrence in the 3rd District, and moving western Lawrence into the 2nd District.

 The Senate plan would move Lawrence into the 2nd District and make the 2nd a more western district.

The maps have been embroiled in partisan fighting between Republicans and Democrats and between moderate and conservative Republicans.

Budget matters

A budget conference committee agreed during the break to a $4.4 billion proposal that includes the following terms. But the plan still lacks endorsement from the full House and Senate.

 Higher education  Funding would remain at current levels. Higher education officials say this amounts to a cut because the current levels don't take into account increases in health insurance and salaries that were instituted mid-year.

 Public schools  Funding would remain at current levels. Public school officials say this amounts to a reduction because of increased costs.

 Aging and welfare services  Officials say the budget restores many of the proposed cuts that had been envisioned in earlier proposals by Gov. Bill Graves.

Tax proposals

Various plans are on the table but there is no agreement.

 Gov. Bill Graves' $364 million plan would increase the state sales tax from 4.9 cents per dollar to 5.2 cents per dollar; increase cigarette taxes 65 cents per pack ; add an income tax surcharge of 5 percent; expand the inheritance tax; and increase corporate franchise fees.

 One Senate plan would raise $335 million. It would raise individual income taxes, the state sales tax, cigarette taxes, and excise taxes on liquor and beer; reimpose the inheritance tax; and double corporate franchise fees.

 One House plan would raise about $266 million. It would increase the state sales tax, the cigarette tax and various tobacco taxes .

 Nevertheless, a significant number of lawmakers insist no tax increase remains the best alternative for the state.

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