AIA Legislative Update

A chilly start to the New Year 

By Terry Humphrey, executive director AIA Kansas

The New Year has delivered a new urgency to solve the state’s budget problems. Lawmakers returned to the Statehouse a couple of weeks ago burdened with tackling the state’s huge $350-million shortfall for the current fiscal year and the anticipated $500 million for next year.

Unfortunately, neither the Governor’s State of the State address nor his budget proposals have allayed lawmakers’ concerns. The Governor stands firmly behind the “LLC loophole” that exempts 330,000 Kansans from paying income taxes, which many believe is the key source of the state’s budget deficit. Instead, the Governor has proposed a mix of budget “patches,” including: borrowing money from the state’s investment fund, transferring money from the highway fund, selling tobacco settlement revenue, deferring paying bills (schools and KPERS), and raising taxes on liquor and cigarettes, among other things.

Overall, reception to the Governor’s plans has been chilly at best, punctuated by the ice storm warnings that ended the first week of the 2017 legislative session.

What lawmakers seek is a structurally balanced budget, i.e., where recurring revenue and recurring expenses are in balance. We’re already six months into this fiscal year, so the daunting task at hand is how to climb out of the hole we’re in and come to some agreement on the best path to future financial stability.

The budget and tax committees hit the ground running but have been slowed by debates over how much revenue closing the LLC loophole will bring in, among other things. It’s a complex process, and the Legislature has allotted 10 extra days this session to hammer out a solution.

We are also watching for other bills that may be of particular interest to AIA, which includes the following to date:

  • HB 2130 This bill changes some Department of Administration regulations on state contracts and purchase orders. Currently in House General Government Budget Committee.
  • SB 55  This bill addresses public construction contracts and performance and payment bonds. Introduced in Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee.

2017 Capitol Architects Program

Most legislators know very little about the role of architects in their communities. They don’t realize your work creates jobs and economic growth—unless you tell them. To help lawmakers better understand your important role in the state’s economy, last year AIA Kansas launched the Capitol Architects Program. The program is designed to build relationships with legislators and familiarize them with AIA Kansas.

If you would like to participate in the program, we will begin by scheduling an appointment in Topeka with the legislator(s) in your district. I will be pleased to accompany you on the introductory meeting and help familiarize you with the process. Our goal is to let your legislators know that you are not just a constituent, but a knowledgeable resource that he or she can turn to on issues related to your profession.

This program will require you to travel to Topeka. If you are interested, please email me at terry@aiaks.org. Look at your calendar and select two or three possible meeting dates between now and April 1. Based on your availability, I will set the appointments and create the talking points. If you have questions about the program, please call my cell at 785-221-8215. I look forward to seeing you at the capitol!

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