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Rural revitalization a focus for Department of Commerce
troy waymaster
Troy Waymaster - photo by Tribune file photo

This week, the Appropriations committee held numerous informational hearings from varying agencies and departments of the Kansas state government.

On Thursday, the interim secretary, David Toland, breifed the committee on the status and direction of the Department of Commerce.  

He mainly focused on his personal direction for the department, then discussed both rural and urban development initiatives.  He discussed the top successes for the department and the developmental tools used to generate those successes.  The tools that he mentioned were:  Promoting Employment Across Kansas (PEAK); High Performance Incentive Program (HPIP); Rural Opportunity Zones; and several others. 

He did indicate that while many of these tools the department has at its disposal are generally used for urban development, he wants his department to identify development opportunities for the rural parts of our state using some of these tools.  He said that coming from a rural area, he understands and empathizes with the demands of keeping jobs, people, and businesses in rural areas.  He also discussed the direction of the governor by creating an office of Rural Prosperity and the House in creating a committee where the major focus is for rural revitalization.

Our State of Indebtedness

This week the Appropriations committee also held a hearing with the Kansas Development Finance Authority on the outstanding debt for the state.  It was compelling to see the increase in bonding from 2005 to 2018.  Most of the bonding that has been done by the state has grown over the past several years.  The increases have been primarily driven by the financing programs of: KPERS, State Capitol Restoration Project, cost share for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, transportation, and our higher education institutions.  The KPERS unfunded liability is not factored in the KPERS bonds, instead those funds are factored in for the state’s overall debt picture, as is the Pooled Money Investment Board loan.  It was made apparent that we need to address our debt before adding new spending.

What is the “Windfall”

There has been movement this week in the Senate, which passed a bill out of the “special” tax committee, addressing what has commonly been called the “windfall.”

The windfall derives from the recent changes in federal tax law where Kansas taxpayers must take the standard deduction on their state income tax return if they take the standard deduction on the federal return.

Some contend that this may eliminate the opportunity for Kansans with itemized deductions below the federal standard deduction, to itemize on their state return.  By amending the tax code, or decoupling from the federal tax law, would allow taxpayers to itemize, or take the standard deduction, on the state’s returns.  This is expected to be voted on in the Senate next week.

Contact Information

As always, if you have any concerns, feel free to contact me (785) 296-7672, follow on twitter at #waymaster4house, visit or email me at  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.

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.