Finch: State workers’ retirement system is not a piggy bank

By State Rep. Blaine Finch, 59th District, Franklin and Osage Counties

Greetings from the Kansas House. As I write to you we are working on the House floor to consider a number of bills before the turnaround deadline. This is the deadline when most House bills must leave the House and be sent over to the Senate for consideration and vice versa. The week before turnaround is a very busy one as committees work to pass out bills. Then the day or two before turnaround day, all representatives spend the day on the House floor working bills that House leadership believes worthy of consideration.

Late last week we saw final action on the state budget in the House and the Senate followed shortly thereafter. The budget is quite simply the biggest public policy item we consider in the Legislature. It sets our state’s priorities and shows what we – as Kansans – value based on where we allocate our tax dollars. I was disappointed in the final budget for several reasons, most notably that it contains the KPERS borrowing provision I wrote about previously. Under this provision, the governor is granted the power to delay scheduled payments to the KPERS retirement fund, which essentially functions as borrowing from our retiree pension system. The provision does set forth that the state pay back this borrowing with 8 percent interest. But the bottom is this: This is money we don’t have, to repay a loan we shouldn’t need, from a source that should remain inviolate. Our public retirement system is not a piggy bank and the legislature should not allow the governor to use it as such. I voted no on this budget.

This week we saw final action on more than 30 bills, including several bills criminal justice bills addressing how juvenile convictions affect adult sentences; stiffening penalties for those who flee while on parole; and changes to help clarify last year’s law on when search warrant affidavits are released to the public. We have also seen laws to raise speed limits on certain highways – not interstates; ensuring in-state tuition at public universities for our veterans; and a measure that defunded the contract to build a new power plant to replace the one housed in the Docking State Office Building. This means the Docking Building may have a reprieve from demolition for another year or so.

It was my pleasure to welcome Chris Patton from COF Training Services to Topeka last week to provide testimony on HB 2626. This bill grew from an idea Chris had to help move people who are dependent on public assistance to wage earning work and self-sufficiency. The House Tax Committee was very receptive to the idea and I look forward to helping him work on this.

And this week it was an honor to have Delaney Murphy join me on the House floor. Delaney is the very first Little Miss Wheelchair Kansas. She has made it her mission to help raise awareness for children in wheelchairs and bring young ladies in wheelchairs together. She embodies what it means to work hard, care about others, and attempt to make the world a better place. In short, what it means to be a Kansan. Congratulations, Delaney!

I welcome your emails or calls to [email protected] or 785-296-7655. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you as your representative.

Contact us: Osage County News | P.O. Box 62, Lyndon, KS 66451 | [email protected] | 785-828-4994 | Powered by Osage County, Kansas