KEPC UPDATE: Ed funding report, tax reaction, enterprise zones, Rural Opportunity Zones, labor report

In this issue …

  • Slow week as lawmakers wait for education funding report
  • House Taxation tackles reaction to federal changes
  • Lawmakers consider reinstating enterprise zone
  • Committee reviews Rural Opportunity Zone results
  • Monthly labor report


Slow week as lawmakers wait for education funding report

Many legislative committees did not meet this week, but activity will pick up next week as lawmakers review an education study that is expected to guide them through how they react to the Kansas Supreme Court decision that the current K-12 funding formula is unconstitutional.

Texas A and M professor Dr. Lori Taylor has been hired to conduct the cost study.  Dr. Jesse Levin of the American Institutes for Research has been hired to do a peer review of Taylor’s study.

On Friday afternoon, attorneys Jeff King and Curt Tideman will present an overview of the Taylor study to the Senate Select Committee on Education Finance and the House K-12 Education Budget Committee.

The Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Senator Molly Baumgardner (R-Louisburg) announced in the Senate Thursday that the study will be released at one p.m. Friday to the entire legislature in an e-mail.


House Taxation tackles reaction to federal changes

Two bills designed in response to the new federal income tax changes were heard in the House Taxation Committee Wednesday.

House Bill 2569 doubles the standard deduction on Kansas income tax beginning in 2018.  The federal change doubled the standard deduction.  It’s estimated the state change could cost the state as much as $200 million per year.

House Bill 2761 allows Kansas individuals to itemize deductions on their state taxes despite not itemizing on their federal return. Currently, to itemize in Kansas, the taxpayer must also itemize on their federal return.  That’s expected to cost the state an estimated $34 million.

Committee Chairman Steve Johnson (R-Assaria) said the committee will work bills on the concepts next week.


Lawmakers consider reinstating enterprise zone

Economic development issues continue to be reviewed in some legislative committees.

The House Appropriations Committee has scheduled a hearing on HB 2767 next Wednesday, which reinstates the enterprise zone program in Kansas.  The program was eliminated by a previous legislature, but is important to local economic developers.

The bill was introduced just last week.  Appropriations is a committee that is exempt from deadlines, so the bill could pass yet this session.

The bill would provide tax credits and certain sales tax exemptions to businesses that expand.  However, it only applies to designated nonmetropolitan counties.


Committee reviews Rural Opportunity Zone results

Some lawmakers are interested in expanding the Rural Opportunity Zone (ROZ) program to more areas of Kansas. That discussion came as the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee reviewed the program on Wednesday.

The program is designed to attract new residents to rural areas of the state by forgiving individual income taxes for five years and, in some cases, help pay off education loans up to $15,000.

To qualify, the new resident cannot be a current resident of Kansas.

The program has grown steadily since it began in 2012.  In 2016, 494 people took advantage of the program.

The biggest category of professions that have applied is education.  Many school districts have used the program to attract teachers.  The second-highest category was health care.

The largest numbers are coming from Nebraska (171) and Colorado (170).


Monthly labor report

Kansas continues to grow jobs at a slow rate, according to the latest Department of Labor report.

Total nonfarm jobs grew 0.6 percent from January of 2017 to January of 2018.  Information jobs declined 3.0 percent.  Construction jobs declined 2.4 percent.

The strongest growth was in transportation, warehousing and utilities with a 7.3 percent growth rate.

Here’s a link to the job growth information.


Bill tracking

Here’s our latest bill tracking on measures we think are of interest to our readers.  All of these bills are held over from 2017.  As new bills of interest are introduced, I will add them to the list.

You should be able to click on the bill number and be taken to the Kansas Legislature’s web site page for that particular bill.  You will be able to see all actions taken, read the bill, and read any supplemental notes (layman’s descriptions) and fiscal notes (how much does the bill cost the state) that have been prepared.