Voters in the 10th District Kansas House on Nov. 6 will elect a new person to represent them in Topeka for the third time in three terms.
After a panel of three federal judges released redrawn legislative districts in June, which removed Franklin County precincts from the 10th District and added portions of Lawrence and east-central Douglas country in their place, first-term Republican incumbent TerriLois Gregory moved from Baldwin City to Ottawa and launched an unsuccessful run for the GOP nomination for 59th House District. In making that decision, she endorsed fellow Baldwin City Republican Erica Anderson for the 10th District seat, saying she shared her views and values. Anderson says she opposes any measure to restrict Second Amendment rights, is pro-life and would support further steps to regulate abortion providers “as long as that legislation promotes life, not death.”
Anderson’s foe is Democrat John Wilson, of Lawrence.
As he campaigns door to door, the issues most on voters’ minds are education, the economy and jobs, Wilson said. On education, concerns are that the state provide funding adequate to maintain current class sizes, retain good teachers and give teachers what is needed to succeed in the classroom, he said.
Wilson said the income tax package the Kansas Legislature passed last spring threatens those education objectives. The package reduced tax rates, increased standard deductions and exempted from taxation nonwage income from some businesses. The tax reduction is estimated to be $800 million in 2014.
Wilson said he would support an effort to roll back the package. One concern, he said, was that as revenue dwindles and the state cuts back on aid to local school districts, it could force school districts to increase local property taxes as the only alternative source of revenue.
“That’s a pretty big concern,” he said. “Nobody I talk to thinks there is any flexibility to raise property taxes higher than they already are.
“This is such a sweeping cut, it’s going to cause problems. There are strategic ways to cut taxes for small businesses that I would consider.”
Anderson said cooperation was the key to making the tax cuts work, strengthening education and finding inefficiencies in government.
“We need to support positive changes that will draw people together to help solve our issues, not initiatives that divide and cause strife,” she said. “We must make a shift that allows us to be graceful to one another so that we may come together to find innovative solutions to bring efficiencies to the discussion.”
Anderson supports the income tax cuts of the last session, agreeing with Gov. Sam Brownback’s view that they will increase state revenues by encouraging economic development.
“I do believe they have the opportunity to grow the economy by putting more money into the hands of the people,” she said. “This is a step in the right direction.”
If elected, she would work with all to see that the cuts don’t harm education, Anderson said.
“At this time, I do not see it as an issue,” she said. “This next legislative session will give us the opportunity to look at how we can fund our schools and districts to ensure that they have all of the tools that they need to be successful, to grow their local economy, to improve their job and homeless rates, as well as address local issues that will arise as we move forward.”
Brownback said this month he would consider extending the temporary 0.5 percent sales tax set to expire in July 1, 2013, should state revenues suffer too much of a shortfall from the income tax cuts. That option has no support from the two 10th District candidates.
“We need to honor the Legislature’s previous commitment on the sales tax,” Wilson said. “It was sold to Kansans with the idea it would sunset this summer. Sales taxes are the most aggressive taxes out there.”
Anderson said the sales tax should expire and the Legislature should look at new revenue sources in its 2013 session.
Wilson tied economic development to support for education, saying businesses first look for quality K-12 schools and colleges when looking to relocate or expand. He would like to see additional vocational education available in high school and workforce retraining opportunities for displaced workers.
The biosciences and alternative energy solutions, particularly wind energy, offered economic development in Kansas, Wilson said. There also was “less sexy” economic development potential in conservation upgrades, which allow companies to save through cutting energy use.
Wilson is pro-choice but said he supports comprehensive sex education, including abstinence education, and women’s access to contraceptives as ways to reduce abortions.
Occupation: Program coordination for a nonprofit advocating health care promotion and disease prevention
Married: Dustin Rothwell
Religion: Morning Star Church
Education: Bachelor of Science in management and marketing
Experience: Kansas Public Health Association board member, Green Pastures Pre-School board member, June 2009 to August 2010
Quote: “We need to support positive changes that will draw people together to help solve our issues, not initiatives that divide and cause strife.”
Occupation: Manages training and technical assistance for a nonprofit organization working to reduce childhood obesity.
Married: Jami Jones
Religion: Plymouth Congregational Church of Lawrence
Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts (graphic design) from Kansas University, 2006
Experience: Ran for the 45th Kansas House District in 2008, Douglas County Historical Society board, Ecumenical Christian Ministries board, founding member of the Douglas County Food Policy Council
Quote: “Nobody I talk to thinks there is any flexibility to raise property taxes higher than they already are.”