Former State Represenative Turned Government Relations Expert
LOWERING SALES AND PROPERTY TAX
Kansas ranks in the bottom 10 states for tax-friendly climates. While our income tax ranks below the national average our sales and property tax rates remain in the highest. Kansas has the second-highest sales tax on food in the entire United States. Parts of Kansas exceed a 10% sales tax rate. As a State Representative, Tom has voted to lower sales tax and the sales tax on food numerous times. Tom introduced legislation that would cap property tax increases and prevent elderly people from being taxed out of their homes. In 2017 with the Federal Tax Cuts, many Kansans lost their ability to itemize their state income taxes. Tom voted to allow Kansan's to itemize their state taxes even if they took the standard deduction at the federal level. This would have put more money back in hard-working, middle-class Kansans hands.
Our public schools are the shining stars and highlight a key aspect of what makes Johnson County so great. Not only do they bring families into our community, but talented teachers to educate at some of the finest schools in the nation. Education is the key to a successful community and a flourishing society. Classroom sizes are getting bigger, schools are closing and programs are getting cut. Tom has worked hard to adequately fund our schools to reverse these trends by developing a school finance plan to restore proper funding to Kansas education. Strong public schools, in turn attract businesses, creating jobs for our future generations. A well-educated workforce builds a strong economy and a strong community, increasing the likelihood of our children staying in Kansas.
Tom is the product of the Kansas public school system. His teachers taught him not just the value of his education, but of civic duty as well. Tom has voted consistently to support our local schools, including adding nearly $1 Billion in new K-12 funding.
In both his first and second term, Tom sponsored and pushed for legislation that would provide increases in accountability under the dome and in our communities. Tom and his colleagues successfully passed legislation ensuring increased accessibility for the open records act, adding live streaming to committee rooms so Kansans can stay informed from anywhere and decreased the likelihood of government boards to meet in secret. These initial steps toward larger reforms will ensure that our government is completely visible and accountable to its citizens. We will continue to take steps in the right direction and Tom will continue to fight for increased transparency and accountability under the dome and in our communities. Tom sponsored legislation calling for all legislation introduced to include who introduced the bill in the first place.
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE
A key to a productive society is a healthy one. People need access to affordable healthcare options in order to contribute to our economy and communities. Access comes in many different forms. Tom has fought as the Vice-Chair of the Insurance Committee to create a regulatory environment that both ensures high-quality insurance products in the state, while keeping premiums below the national average. Tom has worked to expand Medicaid in Kansas, which would help provide insurance to more than 100,000 Kansans, while bringing in more than $700 million in new funding from the Federal Government. That funding would help add more than 1,300 new jobs and significantly reduce local hospital write-offs that are passed onto those with insurance as higher medical services cost.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
Criminal justice reform is about protecting the rights all of Kansans. Tom has worked to reform the justice system to ensure all people are treated fairly and that the system is focused on rehabilitation. We need to focus on how we keep people out of prison and keep them productive members of society. How can we keep them as "tax-payers" instead of "tax spenders." Kansas has some of the strictest sentencing guidelines in the United States. The number one reason people go to prison in Kansas is over technical violations of probation terms. This means they did not commit a new crime, but failed to adhere to requirement of probation, such as missing an appointment or losing a job. By forcing a non-violent offender to automatically go to prison for 3-6 months for a technical violation can put them on a path they cannot recover from. We need to end civil asset forfeiture. We must require a conviction to for government to keep seized assets. This is protecting the fundamental right of property ownership. This issue transcends party lines and often brings together the most conservative and most progressive people.