Column: We can help Kansas families make ends meet

The following column is from Senator Laura Kelly, candidate for governor of Kansas:

Kansas has been through a world of hurt in the last eight years. The Brownback tax experiment nearly bankrupted our state. As a result, schools were devastated, road projects were delayed, rural hospitals closed, and our economy was at a standstill. Kansas staggered from crisis to crisis, unable to plan for the future. Some progress has been made, but it’s important to remember that our challenges are not over.

I’ve been on the Senate budget committee for 14 years, and fixing Brownback’s mess required a huge bipartisan effort last year. I’m proud to have led the bipartisan fight to end the failed experiment, but there is much work still to do.

It’s time Kansas gets back to our fiscally conservative and responsible roots. During the Brownback years, borrowing exploded. We now have to pay down that debt and repair the holes left in our schools, highways, foster care and pensions systems.

The budget that we adopted for this fiscal year is balanced. Our state’s credit rating – downgraded multiple times in the Brownback years – has started to improve. And, revenues have consistently come in ahead of estimates since last year. This was not dumb luck – this was very difficult work done by a group of brave, dedicated public servants. And because of our work together, we are able to balance our budget in the coming years with no new taxes.

This is how we return our state to fiscal stability – and economic prosperity. Businesses will grow again in a stable economic climate. And through strategic investment in schools, roads and digital infrastructure, Kansas will once again attract and retain new businesses.

A stable, balanced state budget is essential to a growing economy – as we’ve seen in the last 15 months. But, it is also critical to providing real tax relief for working men and women and their families. That’s why once the state’s finances have fully stabilized, the first order of business will be to reduce the sales tax on food. Because we all know that a little bit can go a long way for our families.

Kansas has one of the highest tax rates on food in the nation. This is unacceptable. And we can change it. By ending the Brownback experiment, eliminating “no-bid” contracts and managing the budget more efficiently, we can gradually reduce the sales tax on food. This means more money in your pocket and more food on the table.

We have an important decision to make in November. We cannot allow Kansas to return to the Brownback experiment, threatening our schools and highways – our key assets. And that is exactly what Kris Kobach has promised in his campaign. He has made it very clear that he plans repeat the Brownback policies that resulted in massive cuts to our schools. If we want a bright future for our children and grandchildren, we cannot let that happen.

However, if we continue to work together to stabilize our budget and invest in our key assets, we will have every reason to be optimistic about the future of our state. And, we can do things to actually help families get by. When I am governor, I commit to just that.