Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): Great Idea--Long Presser

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Great Idea--Long Presser

Kansas Senate candidate Echo Van Meteren yesterday announced a plan to increase pay for teachers and correctional officers. Van Meteren is somewhat a political newcomer, but she's married to a political old timer, Kris Van Meteren. Kris is owner of Singularis Group, a political consulting firm. She faces incumbent Sen. Tom Holland, Baldwin City Democrat. 

Echo gave a (too long) press conference yesterday, and unfortunately, I can't find that any print media picked up the story. The press conference was marginal, but the plan she announced is brilliant. Her proposal would eliminate income taxes for full-time teachers and correctional officers, thereby increasing their pay.

Here's why the suggestion is so smart:

Increasing teacher pay has been a critical campaign issue this cycle. However, legislators actually have zero say in teacher pay. That decision is left up to school administrators and school boards. (Just one of the many reasons the electorate's fury at the legislature is so misplaced.) Legislators don't have the authority or the ability to wave a magic wand and give teachers more money. It doesn't work that way. I don't think it ever has. 

That said, legislators ARE responsible for tax policy, and giving teachers and correctional officers a break on their income taxes does exactly what voters say they want: Putting more money in teachers' pockets. This plan would impact the state budget by less than 1 percent. (It's a wash. Teachers get more money, but it doesn't come at the expense of the rest of the taxpayers.)

This plan also is savvy because it takes the wind out of the fighting sails of two factions of Republicans. On one side, you have Republicans who appear to be hellbent on giving more money to public schools even if it means raising taxes for everyone else. And on the other side,  you have conservatives who aren't all that keen on absconding more money from my wallet. (Thank you, conservatives!) 

As Echo said in a press release, "Small business owners have already been granted this benefit...Why not extend the same benefit to teachers and corrections officers?"

While I'm not a big fan of using the tax code to reward or punish folks, this is a politically wise move on Echo's part, and for Republicans in general. This is a political winner, and I hope it catches steam. It gives voters what they want without laundering the cash through Topeka, which should be the ultimate goal. 

Echo is in a difficult race. Holland ran for Governor back in 2010 and was soundly walloped by Gov. Sam Brownback. However, he hasn't had much trouble finding voters willing to send him back to Topeka to serve in the House or the Senate. He served in the Kansas House from 2003-2008 and has been in the Senate since 2009.

Angered voters ousted a lot of incumbents during the Republican primary last August. If this strain of anti-incumbency is particularly virulent, I hope voters' ire extends to state Sen. Tom Holland. 

1 comment:

  1. The underlying assumption of the tax program was to get rid of the income tax completely & replace it with a consumption tax. This would be a good interim step. The other side of the equation is a tougher sell. One route I see to it is incrementally bringing services into the sales tax. That way a rate increase would be the last step.