Mast: Halfway through legislative session, headed in positive direction – Osage County Online | Osage County News

Mast: Halfway through legislative session, headed in positive direction

State Rep. Peggy Mast, District 76
Kansas House Speaker Pro Tem


We are now officially over halfway through the session. It’s time to take a look back at the wonderful things we have accomplished so far and look forward to the positive direction we are heading.

Kansas families are keeping more of their hard-earned dollars

Income tax rates have been reduced from 23 percent to 26 percent for all Kansas families, and the standard tax deduction for married tax filers was given a 25 percent boost, increased from $6,000 to $7,500. The sales tax rate was decreased from 6.3 percent to 6.15 percent.

Small businesses and entrepreneurs have more to invest in new jobs

Kansas has eliminated the state income tax on certain small business income so funds in excess of wages can be reinvested in business expansion and job creation.

More fiscally responsible and focused on priorities

The legislature achieved $200 million in savings in the 2014 state general fund budget, while at the same time making core investments of $3.8 billion in K-12 education funding and $1.2 billion in road construction and maintenance.

Kansas economic development

Kansas has been ranked fifth in the country for economic development projects in 2013. Site Selection, a magazine that has put together comprehensive economic development rankings since 1978, issued this rating. Site Selection also ranked Kansas second in per capita projects from the West North Central region that included Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Kansas had 106 new facilities and expansions in 2013, meaning there were 36.6 economic development projects for every 1 million in population. Of these 106 new economic development projects, 20 were manufacturing facilities, 24 were manufacturing expansions, and 62 were classified in other categories, including office, headquarters, and research and development facilities. This ranking makes it clear that Kansas continues to create one of the best pro-business environments in the nation.

Tax receipts

February revenue receipts beat monthly estimates by 97.6 million. Individual income tax receipts are $54 million above previous estimates. This is the result of increased wages and decreased unemployment. Companies have been increasing wages since 2013 following a steady recovery from the 2008 financial crisis. Another piece of important news is that corporate income tax receipts are $20 million above budget. This is a sign that Kansas is attracting new business and allowing the existing businesses to grow. Additionally, Kansas received an unexpected $50 million personal income tax receipts in February. This extraordinary item will be analyzed further.

Protecting Kansas seniors

The House approved a bill that increases the penalty for committing financial securities fraud against anyone over age 60. The bill, HB 2433, increases the severity of the punishment by one level, which translates to increased prison sentences for offenders. Financial fraud is among the fastest growing form of elder abuse in the nation. Oftentimes seniors are too embarrassed, confused, or fearful to report the abuse.

Ensuring the rights of property owners

Under HB 2538, Deer antlers and other trophies from wild animals obtained from animals illegally hunted by trespassers on private property will be first offered to the landowner. Currently the trophies are confiscated by the state and are often found on display in state offices. It’s important for property owners to at least have the option of keeping the meat and trophies from animals on their land, even if they were shot illegally.

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