I and a few others met with Americans For Prosperity’s Kansas state director Derrick Sontag on Friday. Following are a few of the questions I asked, and Derrick’s answers.
Q. Last year AFP had a model budget. Did that have anything to do with the relatively low increase in spending — compared to previous years — in last year’s budget? And does AFP plan to introduce a model budget this year?
“Yes. I think AFP in general had a lot to do with that. AFP had a direct impact. We’re probably on the next-to-last draft on a model budget for this year. We’ll bring it out next month in time for the legislature to use it for the 2010 budget.”
Q. Proposition K — the effort to reform property tax appraisals in Kansas: Who will be the opposition to this?
“Local units of government. When you think about it, it’s been a nice hidden tax increase for years. They can just rely on the appraisal system to do their dirty work. We stress that it doesn’t take away the local’s right or authority to raise property tax rates. But, they won’t like this, because they wont have the appraisal system to lean on. So they’ll have to ask for an increase in the mill levy. They’re going to fight it, but it will be tough for them to justify it. Citizens will ask “why are you fighting this? You still have the right to raise tax rates.'”
Q. What about transparency in Kansas government?
“When you look at budget transparency, we want to look at local units of government as well as at the state level. We have the transparency website [Kanview], which I think is very good. It shows the state expenditures and revenues, and local units of government should have to do the same things. Cities, counties, and school districts should have to list their expenditures.”
Q. Do you think there will be action on the Holcomb Station expansion, the coal plant, this year?
“Yes. I’m actually optimistic that it will happen.”
Q. What about judicial reform?
“I think judicial reform will get attention, too. I think we need to capitalize on the Dan Biles appointment. Even if Biles turns out to be the kind of justice we all hope for, it still doesn’t change the fact that the questions that came out after the nomination should have been asked before. The kind of questions like what is your relationship with the chair of the state Democratic party? That should be asked in the senate.”