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Area legislators visit county officials

Commissioner Duane Patrick brought up the “elephant in the room” in regard to wind farms in Kansas and the payment in lieu of taxes issue.

State Sen. Jay Emler, R-Lindsborg, and State Rep. Clark Shultz, R-Lindsborg, met with the Board of McPherson County Commissioners at Tuesday's meeting, where education, Medicaid, possible tax cuts to industry and renewable energy were at the forefront of the discussion.
Shultz, first elected in 1996, is chairman of the House Insurance Committee, and has traveled the state to meet with the public regarding insurance issues.

Shultz said he thought 2005 would be the year of education and that by 2006, the emphasis would switch to insurance or other issues.

“It appears though that 2006 will still be education,” Shultz said, adding that by direction of the Supreme Court, the legislature went into special session in July, resulting in additional monies for education.

“During the year 2005, we have added about $290 million new dollars in education funding,” Shultz said.

Emler greeted commissioners and highlighted his committees in the Senate. He is a member of the Commerce Committee; chairman of the Utilities Committee and vice chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which includes participation in nine sub-committees of ways and means. He is also vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Kansas... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
State Sen. Jay Emler, R-Lindsborg, and State Rep. Clark Shultz, R-Lindsborg, met with the Board of McPherson County Commissioners at Tuesday's meeting, where education, Medicaid, possible tax cuts to industry and renewable energy were at the forefront of the discussion.
Shultz, first elected in 1996, is chairman of the House Insurance Committee, and has traveled the state to meet with the public regarding insurance issues.

Shultz said he thought 2005 would be the year of education and that by 2006, the emphasis would switch to insurance or other issues.

“It appears though that 2006 will still be education,” Shultz said, adding that by direction of the Supreme Court, the legislature went into special session in July, resulting in additional monies for education.

“During the year 2005, we have added about $290 million new dollars in education funding,” Shultz said.

Emler greeted commissioners and highlighted his committees in the Senate. He is a member of the Commerce Committee; chairman of the Utilities Committee and vice chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which includes participation in nine sub-committees of ways and means. He is also vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Kansas Security for Homeland Security. Emler has served during the interim session on the Medicaid Committee this year.

“The bottom line is right now we are spending about $3.2 billion I think it is on education and by 2011, we will be spending $3.1 billion on Medicaid. Folks, that's a killer. We have a $10 billion all-funds budget and you're talking about two programs that are going to take up over 60 percent of what we are spending right now,” Emler stated.

Emler also has served during the interim on the Select Joint Committee on Energy.

“The big, big push is for renewable energy right now,” he stated. He said that the state of Kansas, once an exporter of energy, is now an importer of energy.

“That means we are either going to have to rely on our surrounding states for electricity or we are going to have to come up with more power plants, be they coal-fired or nuclear,” Emler said.

Commission Chairman Don Schroeder asked Shultz and Emler why commercial wind farms are not regulated by the state as other utilities are.

“Why is it relegated down to the county level?” asked Schroeder.
Emler said that decision predated his involvement on the energy committee.

“At some point and time, the state took the position that this is a local issue, that folks should decide whether they want them or they don't want them,” said Emler.

Emler and Shultz were asked about spending issues and the state budget.

“One thing we have to do each year is build a budget. We are constitutionally required to do that. It has to be balanced. We can't spend money we don't have like the federal government can, so it's an issue each year,” said Shultz.

Commissioner Duane Patrick brought up the “elephant in the room” in regard to wind farms in Kansas and the payment in lieu of taxes issue.

“I have requested that bill be drafted ... This is ridiculous. County commissioners' hands are tied, you can't talk about payments in lieu, which is ridiculous because you have to do what's best for this county,” said Emler. He said last Thursday afternoon the energy committee brought up the issue.

“One way or another we are going to see some legislation come out. Whether it gets passed or not, that's a different story,” Emler stated.

In addressing the school voucher issue, Shultz said he believes there will be more discussion on the issue of school vouchers, but probably not any action taken.

“Generally, for any type of change of that magnitude, it will likely be several years before something like that will pass,” Shultz said.

Commissioners expressed concern that the state legislature might take action to reduce taxes at the county level by offering further tax benefits to manufacturers. Because of the level of manufacturing business done in the county, this could place McPherson County in a budget pinch.

“The key is going to be the impact on counties that have industry. It may cut some taxes, but you (counties, as a result of the proposed tax cuts to manufacturers) either have to cut services or raise taxes,” Terry said.

Source: http://www.mcphersonsentine...

DEC 21 2005
http://www.windaction.org/posts/793-area-legislators-visit-county-officials
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