During the past two years, I served as a member of the Transportation Task Force. Our main mission was to create the parameters of a new plan to address the future transportation needs for the state of Kansas. We traveled the state and held meetings in regional sections accross Kansas, listening to citizens on what transportation needs they wished to be addressed in the next transportation plan.
Although the current transportation plan, T-Works, did not complete all of the projects that were promoted in the plan within the last ten years, our first goal from the consultations is to complete the projects that were suspended in T-Works. These projects, nearing 25 in total and a cost of approximately $500 million, will be the first items included in the new transportation plan, called Forward.
The new plan will address all the transportation needs for the state. This program will not only focus on the state highway system, however, will also address the needs for rail, air, biking, and Unmanned Aircraft Systems. The program will also focus on the Federal Department of Transportation’s directive of where the state of Kansas sees our transportation needs until 2045.
As of right now, the total cost for the next ten year plan is approximately $1.2 billion. This is anticipated to be paid by the state of Kansas not retaining the transfer that should go to the Kansas Department of Transportation of approximately $230 million. I am working with the department to ensure that stable funding is in place for Forward.
Legislative Budget Committee
During the break following the conclusion of the 2019 Legislative Session in May, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee has met numerous times to address the budgetary needs for the state of Kansas. We have discussed an array of issues ranging from agriculture, transportation, mental health, the board of regents, and many more. During the last meeting that we conducted on December 13, we had a briefing of all the requests from the departments and agencies totaling an amount of $275 million in additional spending for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. The Joint Legislative Budget Committee will meet again on January 9, 2020 to generate recommendations to the House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means Committee. Once the 2020 session begins, we will address these requests in the respective budget committees and then those recommendations will be reported to the full Appropriations Committee.
2020 Legislative Session
The 2020 Legislative Session will begin on January 13, 2020 and Governor Kelly will give her annual State of the State Address on January 15, 2020. The next morning, the House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means Committee will conduct a joint committee meeting where the Governor’s budget will be formally introduced.
Although this will set the stage for many items we will address during the 2020 Legislative session, there are some other issues that will dominate the session, as well.
• The first item will be that of Medicaid Expansion. Last session, the House passed a version of Medicaid Expansion, although the Senate never addressed it. The Senate has now produced their version. I was asked to serve on the Special Committee for Medicaid Expansion where we met for two days in November discussing the differing details of the House and Senate plans. Both plans come with a large price tag to the state of Kansas, with the low expected annual expense to the state being $40 million;
• As mentioned before, we will also be looking at generating a new 10-year transportation plan;
• Earlier this year, Governor Kelly created a tax commission to analyze the tax structure for the state of Kansas. Some of the discussions focused on the Local Ad Valorem Tax Reduction Fund and the restoration of the food sales tax refund program. I foresee some of their discussion items to be addressed during the session.
Anytime that one would like to participate and listen to the developments of committee hearings or discussion on the House floor, one can tune in by listening to the audio footage at www.kslegislature.org.
As always, if you have any concerns, feel free to contact me (785) 296-7672, follow on twitter at #waymaster4house, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you happen to visit the statehouse, please let my office know.
It is a distinct honor to serve as your representative for the 109th Kansas House District and the state of Kansas. Please do not hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions. I always appreciate hearing from the residents of the 109th House District and others from the state of Kansas, as well.
My family and I wish all of you a Happy New Year and a prosperous 2020!
Rep. Troy L. Waymaster, 109th District, serves as Chair of the House Appropriations Committee. Born and raised in Russell, he continues today to be active in the farming operation of the family farm south of Bunker Hill today. Waymaster represents the Barton County communities of Albert, Olmitz, Galatia, Susank, Odin and Claflin.