Kansas Senate works on tax policy with Medicaid expansion at standstill Featured

Kansas Senate Vice President Jeff Longbine. Kansas Senate Vice President Jeff Longbine. Kansas Legislature photo

While Medicaid expansion is on hold in the Statehouse, the Kansas Senate has tackled several major pieces of tax legislation as the current session continues.

Senate Vice President and 17th District Senator Jeff Longbine of Emporia had an update on KVOE's Newsmaker segment Tuesday. One of the biggest pieces of action actually deals with two bills, SB 294, which requires local governments to hold public hearings if total property tax collections are proposed to go up over the prior year, and SB 295, which would disallow valuation increases for normal maintenance and upkeep. Longbine says these bills mean local governments would have to lower the mil levy to collect the same tax amount -- if they decided against the higher tax collections and the public hearing process.

This process removes the property tax lid in place since 2018 on municipal and county governments. The lid capped property tax increases at a three-year average inflation rate and forced local governments to have a special election if they needed to go over the average cost-of-living rate.

With monthly revenues well ahead of projections, even after lawmakers have revised those expectations up four different times, Longbine says this is a good time for some tax relief for residents.

One of the biggest issues yet to resolve, aside from the budget, is Medicaid expansion. Longbine supports expansion and was part of an effort to forge a compromise that's currently on hold as conservatives try to connect expansion to a bill that would reverse a Kansas Supreme Court ruling saying women have the right to choose whether to continue a pregnancy. Longbine also supports the abortion bill, but he says the time to link the two initiatives has passed.

Longbine also updated two other notable pieces of legislation that have cleared the Senate. One, SB 384, mandates the Kansas State Department of Education and the Department for Children and Families to issue public reports on foster student graduation rates, grade promotion, standardized scores and access to early childhood programs. The other, SB 283, authorizes sports wagering in Kansas on professional and college sports events as well as motor and horse racing and other special events.

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