In 2016 Kansans elected a delegation of freshman lawmakers to join veteran policymakers in the Statehouse and repair the Kansas tax code.
While not an easy road, the 2017 Legislature passed comprehensive tax reform legislation (Senate Bill 30) that will set Kansas on a path to financial recovery and end the practice of raiding funds dedicated to early childhood programs.
Most notable of all—and despite the Governor’s fourth attempt to dismantle it in 2017—policymakers upheld the Legislature’s promise to Kansas children by protecting the Children’s Initiatives Fund (CIF) again this year. The Kansas Legislature created the Children’s Initiatives Fund in 1999 to support programs promoting the health and welfare of Kansas children. Funding comes from the Master Settlement Agreement between states and major cigarette companies over health-related costs associated with the use, manufacturing, and marketing of tobacco products.
Lawmakers seized several other opportunities to build a better Kansas for children and families:
- The “SOAR” Act (Senate Bill 95) ensures that more Kansans in need of assistance can apply for safety net services.
- Policymakers also took steps to improve the safety of children in child care (House Bill 2304).
- Policymakers recognized the importance of investments in early education to improve K-12 outcomes and dedicated increased funding for early education in the state’s new school finance formula (Senate Bill 19).
- More than ever before, legislators agree that Kansas faces a serious dental workforce shortage and that allowing dentists and safety net clinics to hire dental therapists (House Bill 2139) is a commonsense solution to our state’s challenges.
With comprehensive tax reform enacted and the Children’s Initiatives Fund secure, the state can begin to restore its investments in Kansas’ early childhood education infrastructure, directly impacting thousands of kids across the state and creating benefits in health, education, and economic policy that will last a lifetime.
– Annie McKay, Kansas Action for Children
(June 29, 2017)