An Emporia State political scientist said Laura Kelly’s approach to the State of the State, where she tried to stay away from partisan labels, is not an unfamiliar one.

“She said Kansas values are not Democrat or Republican values,” said Michael Smith. “Those are the kind of things that are very common in speeches like that. However, we didn’t hear so much of that when Sam Brownback was Governor. In that sense, it’s sort of a return to the old way.”

It is a Governor’s task to set the initial agenda for the Legislature.

“In order to do that, you’ve got to come across really strong, really focused and be effective in working the legislature,” said Smith. “She’s gotten off to a strong start, but, again, those differences in priorities with a Republican legislature are something to keep an eye on.”

Whether or not to give back the federal tax cuts by allowing Kansans to itemize deductions at the state level even if they use the standard deduction at the federal level is going to be a likely source of conflict.

“When she said we can do this without a tax increase, my thought would be, well, I have a feeling that this has to do with those federal tax changes and how they percolate down to the state level,” said Smith. “That could be a potential source of revenue. If the legislature pushes to refund all that, then that revenue is gone.”

We’ll see if school funding or the tax windfall turns out to be the first battle of the session. Only time will tell.

Photo courtesy: Emporia State University