April 26, 2023


Jeanna Repass: “While Kansas Democrats are fighting for families across the state, their Republican counterparts — who have occupied the majority for decades — are reverting back to policies that ultimately hurt working-class Kansans.” 

TOPEKA, KS – Kansas Democratic Party Chair Jeanna Repass penned an op-ed in the Topeka Capital-Journal outlining what Republicans have – and haven’t – done with their wealth of power over the past several decades. As Repass points out, Republicans passed the failed “tax experiment” in 2012 that decimated public education, the economy, and our roads and bridges in the name of tax cuts for the wealthy. Learning nothing from this costly mistake, Republicans in the legislature have passed a similarly dangerous tax plan this session – a “flat tax,” or a single tax rate applied to all taxpayers regardless of income – that risks all the progress our state has made over the last four years.

Meanwhile, Kansas Democrats at every level, including Governor Laura Kelly, Representative Sharice Davids, and the House and Senate Democrats in the state legislature are working to fully fund public education, grow our economy, and invest in our roads and bridges to keep Kansans safe.

Read the full op-ed here or below:

The Kansas GOP has been in power for years. Here’s what they have (and haven’t) done with that power.

While Kansas Democrats are fighting for families across the state, their Republican counterparts — who have occupied the majority for decades — are reverting back to policies that ultimately hurt working-class Kansans.

How have Republican politicians used their nearly unlimited power to help fellow Kansans over the years?

In 2012, they passed the infamous failed Sam Brownback “tax experiment” — which cut taxes for the wealthiest Kansans, shifted the financial burden onto low- and middle-income families, and gutted public education, KDOT and KPERS. Kansas was in the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

Now, Republicans in the Kansas Legislature are vowing to overcome the veto of their “flat tax,” a single rate applied to every taxpayer. Like the “tax experiment,” the flat tax will disproportionately benefit Kansas’ highest earners, and puts all the progress we’ve made on fully funding public education at risk.

How many parents want to go back to a four-day school week or to drive on crumbling roads because the state is robbing Peter to pay Paul — gutting KDOT to fund our schools?

Equally important, what haven’t Republican politicians done with their power to help improve our state?

Nearly 8 in 10 Kansans — Democrats, Republicans and Independents — support expanding Medicaid, which would increase access to health care for 150,000 Kansans, create an estimated 23,000 jobs and prevent additional rural hospital closures. Despite its widespread popularity, those representing a minority view in the state legislature have repeatedly blocked expansion.

While most Kansans want to continue to see our schools fully funded, in addition to the Brownback-esque flat tax, the Republicans’ voucher program steals money from public education and gives it to unaccountable private and home schools. This will cause particular damage to our rural schools, many of which don’t have a single private school in their county. Kansans in our rural communities know that this is a disaster for education and for their communities’ economy.

The Legislature had an opportunity to immediately eliminate the state sales tax on food, but Republican legislators put politics first. Had they passed the original plan to Axe the Food Tax in 2022, Kansas families would have saved nearly $425 million by now. The 5.15% flat tax puts savings from the food sales tax cut at risk.

Nearly 70% of Kansans support the legalization of medical marijuana as an issue of mercy and justice for those with chronic pain, PTSD, seizures, and other conditions. It would also strengthen our economy, yet Kansas remains one of only a handful of states where marijuana use for medicinal purposes is criminalized.

Despite the roadblocks, your Democratic representatives have remained steadfast in their commitment to delivering for the people of Kansas.

Under Gov. Laura Kelly’s leadership, we’ve landed some of the largest economic development projects in our state’s history, including Panasonic in De Soto and Integra Technologies in Wichita. She has insured full funding of our public schools every year since taking office, and has called for full funding of our special education programs because she believes every student, regardless of their needs, deserves the same opportunity to thrive. She’s done all of this while cutting taxes for nearly every Kansan and putting our economy back together.

Rep. Sharice Davids’ leadership was essential in passing a once-in-a-generation infrastructure bill that will provide essential upgrades to our roads, bridges and highways across the state. She was the only representative from Kansas to vote to decrease the cost of prescription drugs for our seniors and to cap insulin costs at $35 per month. She’s focused on the policies that matter to Kansans, not divisive issues.

Democrats in the state’s House and Senate are fighting to lower taxes for all Kansas families, including on hygiene products, residential property, food, and more. They’re working to fully fund public schools and SPED, legalize fentanyl test strips, and protect our constitutional freedoms from repeated attacks.

Kansas Democrats are fighting for families across our state, while decades of Republican control has meant higher taxes for Kansas families, diminished educational opportunities for our students, and a focus on policies that divide and discriminate over those that would actually improve lives.