Kansas Senator: 'I'm Hoping We'll Do Better Next Session'
Kansas Senator OlethaFaust-Goudeau returned from Topeka last week after "sine die," the ceremonial adjournment at the statehouse. KMUW’s Carla Eckels sat down with Faust-Goudeau, a democrat, to discuss some of her views about the 2013 legislative session.
ECKELS: The state tax bill was signed into law, this month by Gov.Brownback. The new rate will be 6.15 percent, a drop from the current rate of 6.3 but more than the 5.7 percent level it was scheduled to roll back to this summer. How did the legislature arrive at this number?
FAUST-GOUDEAU: Well, on this tax bill that will become law on Monday, July 1, I voted against the bill because it’s a $777 million dollar tax increase on the low to middle income people who live here in the state of Kansas. And I thought it’s just simply unfair to do that.
ECKELS: So what does this mean for the day-to-day life of the average Kansan?
FAUST-GOUDEAU The tax burden now has shifted to the working poor. They’ll pay more in sales tax, they’ll pay more in income tax and it’s going to be bad. I don’t think people really felt the effect of it yet, but I would imagine in the next year, people are going to really start complaining about this tax increase.
ECKELS: But Gov. Sam Brownback has argued that Kansans would see tax relief even if the plan didn’t allow the state sales tax to roll back as promised.
FAUST-GOUDEAU: Well, I understand that. I appreciate Gov. Sam Brownback’s –his opinion. But in my opinion, it has yet to be seen. We have to wait and see.
ECKELS: I know we are dealing with budget issues but at the same time there is a requirement to fund public schools at a certain level and we’re $650 million dollars short of what the law requires. So what happens?
FAUST-GOUDEAU: Well, if we, the legislature in Kansas, had adequately funded public education properly for the last five years, we would be at about $5,037 base aid per pupil. Right now we’re at about $3,067 per pupil. I think we’ve gone backwards.
ECKELS: Tuition is going up across the board; students at WSU have to pay an increase of 8 percent, so there’s a concern about cost for higher education.
FAUST-GOUDEAU: Absolutely and pertaining to the budget that we passed this legislative session it’s going to cut higher education by 1.5 percent for the next two years. I have two daughters who are in college and I’m like, wow. I’m hoping I’m going to win the lottery to help and fortunately my girls are able to get some scholarships. I’m advising other parents and students to go after those scholarships cause it’s going to be tough and we’re going to hear about it real soon.
ECKELS: You chaired the South Central Kansas Delegation including three public forums this year, two in Wichita and one in Derby. Can you name an issue that you heard from constituents that you were able to take back to Topeka and effectively change?
FAUST-GOUDEAU: The suspended driver’s license bill was something that we heard a little bit from individuals and we were able to go back to Topeka and successfully pass that legislation. But I’ll tell you this was just a session where there were a lot of issues and we just didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of the key issues, the budget, the tax bill and things of that nature, so I’m hoping we’ll do better next session.
ECKELS: Are there any bills you plan to push in the next legislative session?
FAUST-GOUDEAU: Oh yes, I’m going to go more after commerce. I serve on the commerce committee. We’ve got to create more businesses that provide jobs with living wages and benefits for individuals and I’m going to fight real hard for people in the 29th District and thereby, we ultimately help the entire state.