Kansas Election Wrap Up

Earlier this year, Kansas observed a record number of incumbent legislators ousted by moderate candidates in the primary election.  Most of those moderate Republicans and a handful of new Democrats were then officially voted into office in the General Election.  This leaves the balance of power at 85 Republicans/40 Democrats in the House and 31 Republicans/9 Democrats in the Senate.  However, it is difficult to predict exactly how they will all work together, as the moderates are likely to caucus with the Democrats on certain issues.  Governor Brownback will still maintain a significant level of influence over the action of the state as the legislature does not have veto-override levels of moderates.

The most significant action in the Kansas Legislature will revolve around the issues of budget and taxation as the state continues to struggle with a severe budget deficit.  Current reports put the state $81 million short of revenue goals for the first four months of the fiscal year.  Estimates made by the Consensus Revenue Estimating (CRE) group project what may be a record $346 million shortfall in revenues for the remaining eight months of this fiscal year. That amounts to a 5.5% drop in revenues since the last estimate in April.

One large factor that will alter the possible budget solutions is the upcoming state Supreme Court decision that will determine if Kansas K-12 school funding is adequate.  Note that all current Kansas Supreme Court Justices were retained in the general election.  If the court orders more money spent on K-12, the legislature will likely have to turn to income taxes or property taxes.  However, all potential sources of funding, including the rest of the Mortgage Interest Deduction and the sales tax exemption on labor will likely be under review during the 2017 session.

The Kansas Building Industry Association (KBIA) will be meeting on December 7th to plan for the upcoming legislative session and create the 2017 housing policy agenda for the state.