Name: Robert “Bob” Grant

Age: 61

Political Affiliation: Democrat

Hometown: Cherokee, KS

Political Experience: State Representative 17 years. Mayor of Cherokee 16 years

Name: Robert “Bob” Grant
Age: 61
Political Affiliation: Democrat
Hometown: Cherokee, KS
Political Experience: State Representative 17 years. Mayor of Cherokee 16 years

1. The Kansas economy, like most across the country, has slumped over the past couple of years. What specific ideas do you have to jumpstart the state’s economy?

“ Jump starting” this economy is not an option. It needs a whole new engine. Both sides must work together to grow the economy and it will take time. Extreme partisanship stands in the way of progress. This past session we were able to save jobs in the area at public schools and PSU. Three years from no when the .06% is retired from the sales tax, the remaining .04% will be put toward highway construction creating 175,000 jobs in Kansas. New jobs are now being created with the new bonding authority-Build America-for road maintenance and upkeep for the next three years. We may need to review companies that have been given tax abatements and exemptions to see if they are compliant with the deal that was made. If not, the state could “ claw back” those exemptions. We rate in the top 10 as a business friendly state. With good educational systems, good workforce and good infrastructure we can bring jobs back to Kansas.

2. A major issue in the upcoming session is likely to be that of the current Kansas school finance formula. Do you support keeping the state’s school funding formula as it stands? Or are there changes you would support?

The Kansas Constitution says it is the state’ s responsibility to provide equal educational opportunity for every child. Before 1992 the school districts were funded entirely by local property tax creating a disproportionate funding for schools according to the courts. For example, a mill in Galena raised $5,000 but a mill in Burlington raised two million.. The finance plan enacted that year benefited all the schools in the 2nd district by reducing mill levies and increasing budgets which equalized districts. Funding now is raised by 1/3 income, 1/3 sales and 1/3 property tax. The educational system became more compliant with the constitution regardless of zip code. Some districts are able to put more money into their budgets through the local option budget, which is fine, but not to an extreme. I would be willing to explore changes but we must stay within the constitution and also not end up in court again.

3. With the state’s economy continuing to struggle, lawmakers may be asked to consider two options for balancing the state’s budget — the removal of a number of sales tax exemptions for non-profit organizations and the taxing of services. What is your opinion of these options and would you support them?

I have never left Topeka without a balance budget. This year that was accomplished by a coalition of moderate republicans and democrats. These options would not provide a quick fix. Eliminating tax exemptions on non-profit organizations would take a careful approach to establish specific criteria to determine what non-profits can be tax exempt instead of the current random process. For example, a Rotary Club in Topeka is tax exempt but a Rotary in Lawrence is not. Same club, different tax status. Taxing of services has been discussed several time but again, who gets taxed and who doesn’t? This would be a tax burden on the people who can least afford it as it would include carpenters, beauticians, barbers, attorneys, medical personnel, and so on.—services people use every day. I don’ t think either proposal is feasible to balance the budget and I probably would support either one.