Fixing Kansas’ troubled revenue stream and funding for public schools are the top issues in the race for the House 16th District.
Democrat Cindy Holscher, of Overland Park, challenges incumbent Republican Amanda Grosserode, of Lenexa, saying she wants to “end the (Gov. Sam) Brownback disaster.”
Grosserode, who was vice chairwoman of the House Education Budget Committee last year, said she brings needed experience to efforts to revamp school funding.
Holscher says funding for schools is one of the main reasons she’s running. She contends that Grosserode has voted against the best interests of schools, citing a voting record critique compiled by Stand Up Blue Valley, a group formed this year to keep track of school issues in the statehouse.
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“My 13-year-old daughter said to me, ‘Fix this,’ ” Holscher said.
Holscher said legislators should look at what they’re getting from schools. “I’ve witnessed what (budget cuts) have done with larger class sizes and loss of staff,” she said. Students need to be job-ready and prepared for opportunities upon graduation, she said, adding that many teachers haven’t had a raise in more than six years.
Another part of the problem is the state income and sales tax, Holscher said. She said she’d like to see the sales tax on groceries rolled back in phases, because it falls harder on lower-income people. She also criticized the income tax exemption for limited liability companies that have been blamed for budget problems.
Holscher said many of the statehouse problems trace to extremism and a lack of compromise between members. “We need people working together to solve problems. More moderation — I think that’s where most Kansans are at.”
Grosserode said with turnover among House members and a rewrite of the school finance formula on the horizon, she would be one of the few returning members with a background on school finance if re-elected.
The formula is complex and will need a lot of examination, but she suggested that the student enrollment count be changed from fall to spring, to help local districts plan their budgets better.
Grosserode said she’d be open to getting rid of the exemption for LLCs, but it should be part of a larger package that looks at all taxes. “Whether to keep (the LLC exemption) or not is one option that has become the trigger of the discussion,” she said. But other exemptions should also be looked at, such as tax abatements and the Promoting Employment Across Kansas program that involves withholding taxes.
Grosserode said the sales tax is too high, but any rollback would have to be accompanied by adjustments elsewhere.
She added that she hasn’t been in lockstep with Brownback on every tax issue. She voted against a 2013 tax bill and does not support the “march to zero” income taxes.
Education: Bachelor’s political science and journalism, University of Missouri, 1992
Occupation: Management, development of budgets and marketing
Elected experience: None
Education: Bachelor’s elementary education, Wayne State College, 2000
Occupation: State legislator, mom
Elected experience: Kansas House of Representatives 2011-present