July 23, 2004
Over the past months as I continued my door-to-door campaign, I have added hundreds of 17th District constituents to the Sharp Record. I have mailed you information about me, my legislative experience, and a variety of reasons you should re-elect me on August 3rd. However, because we are all so busy, you may not have had time to read previous editions of the Record to read details about my positions. I thought I would provide you a go-to guide on where I stand on the issues that affect us in Lenexa and Shawnee every day, and a few “hot button” issues. You will find these after the standard newsletter format, following the “Question of the Week”. Have a great weekend – it will be a GORGEOUS one!
17th District DEBATE TONIGHT at 8:00 pm! (details below)
Inside Kansas Politics radio show
Make an educated decision in this election…
The League of Women Voters and Johnson County Community College sponsor televised forums for candidates. My debate went VERY well! There are clear differences between my positions and those of my opponent. You will also notice a very distinct difference between our understanding of the issues – specifically school finance!
Channels: Everest 17 (they are having problems accessing Everest), Time Warner 17, and Comcast 22
Friday, July 23rd, 8:00 pm
Sunday, July 25th, 7:00 pm
Thursday, July 29th, 9:00 pm
Sunday, August 1st, 2:00 pm
Inside KS Politics
3rd Congressional District Forum - The candidates for the 3rd Congressional District will be joining us. This is a NO ATTACK ZONE. All three candidates will be joining us, Kris Kobach, Patricia Lightner, and Adam Taff. They will be on separately, responding to the same questions.
TUNE IN SATURDAY MORNING, JULY 24th, 10:00 am, Hot Talk 1510 AM
Want to be the first to know my election results? All you do is show up at the assigned poll location about 6:45 pm on Election Day, show them your permission form (I’ll send you one), they give you my results, and you call me and let me know! It’s that easy. Let me know if you are interested.
Where’s Waldo (Rep. Sharp)? July 19 – July 23rd, 2004
- KS Association of School Boards school finance briefing
- Lenexa Chamber luncheon
- Shawnee and Lenexa joint Chamber breakfast forum featuring the 10th Senate race – Nick Jordan and Lisa Benlon
- Doors, doors, and more doors…
- How in the WORLD did I forget Red Oak? Of course, I walked the subdivision with the most hills and the fewest trees on the hottest days of the year…
- Ashley Park - THANK YOU Tiffany and Ben
- Saddle Ridge – THANK YOU Tiffany and Ben
- Greystone Estates
Question of the Week!
Last week’s question: On the last season of the NBC show “Friends”, Phoebe dated and married Mike. What is Mike’s “real” name; where is he from, and name two other movies he has been in.
Answer and Winner: Eileen Anderson of Lenexa is this week’s winner. “Mike’s real name is Paul Rudd. He is a graduate of SMW, and was most recently in the movie Anchorman. He was also in Clueless, and Object of My Affection.
New Question: Pop-culture part II: A famous talk-show guest turned host, turned author and diet specialist is a Kansan. What is his/her name, where did s/he graduate high school, and what sport did s/he play?
As always, I would love your comments and questions about anything included here, or about anything in state government! If I can ever be of service to you, please do not hesitate to drop me a line!
Rep. Stephanie Sharp
17th District, KS House
Serving Lenexa and Shawnee
Sharp on the Issues
Education and Education Funding
Concealed Carry of Guns
Education and Education Funding - I worked really hard on this, here’s a brief summary:
Arguably the most important issue in the district, not coincidentally, has also been my top priority during my tenure. When at your door, I always ask if you have questions or comments about state government. You won’t be surprised that I hear concerns about schools at virtually every door.
- What have you DONE about it? I have voted for every legitimate education bill that has been introduced, and I helped develop most of those bills. How is “legitimate” defined? There were a couple of bills this year that raided other programs to pay lip service to education, but not solve problems.
- 2003 – I was one of 17 Freshman legislators that refused to bow to legislative ideas of responsible governance. Previously, budgets were balanced with smoke-and-mirrors tricks and Enron-style budget gimmicks. We introduced a budget that fully funded the needs for our schools and ended waiting lists for the elderly and disabled. Currently, Kansans that qualify for state services are on waiting lists because the state refuses to fund to the levels that are established in the law.
- With 13 editorial articles across the state, our bold stance was a refreshing change from the “politics as usual” that Kansans expect from Topeka.
- How did we do this? Part of the reason is because three of our group were lobbyists prior to running for office, and another was a Capitol intern for two sessions (I lobbied for the American Cancer Society). We were already familiar with the legislative process and went to Topeka to get things done for our districts.
· Tell me about the plan
o It included limited sales tax increases, a small income tax surcharge, and increased Local Option Budget (LOB) authority.
· Jargon alert! An income tax surcharge is not a tax on your income. The surcharge is figured as a percentage of the tax you pay to the state. So let’s say you paid $100 in taxes to Kansas this year. A 4% income tax surcharge would mean $4 for you.
· Jargon Part 2 – LOB is the portion of a district’s operating budget that is raised locally and STAYS locally. This was a key ingredient for those of us in Johnson County.
· The bill did not pass, but garnered 44 votes in just two days of lobbying on the bill.
o 2004 – The year of the “Education Republicans”. Bound and determined to help our schools, we formed a large coalition of rural, suburban, and urban, Republican and Democrat legislators. There were 75 in our coalition and it takes 63 votes to pass or fail a bill – so we had a very strong group!
§ Bill #1 - $155 million for our schools (funding was similar to the Freshman plan) included significant increases in the Base State Aid Per Pupil (BSAPP), solving the special education crisis and helping at-risk and bilingual funding. The bill also increased LOCAL CONTROL. It passed the House with flying colors, but dropped DOA on the Senate floor with just 5 votes!
· Jargon Alert – The Base State Aid Per Pupil is the dollar amount given to a district per student. That amount can also be added to through weightings that are determined by your percentage of low income students, bilingual students, and your total district population count.
§ Attempt #2 – It was pretty clear the Senate wasn’t interested in helping schools, so we lobbed another compromise their way - $124 million for schools. They wouldn’t even consider it.
§ Attempt #3 – The close vote. Because the Senate refused to even join us at the negotiating table, we tried one last time to get some legitimate help to the classroom. $108 million was the plan. It still solved many problems, but did not offer as much help per student. It failed by just three votes. Coincidentally, three Johnson County Senators opposed it: O’Connor, Jordan, and Brownlee.
I was active in the coalition that developed, negotiated, lobbied, and voted for these plans. Our coalition was truly amazing – it’s all about building relationships, communication, and trust! Unfortunately, the Senate’s election-year jitters (they run every four years instead of two) kept them from working together and passing solutions. That made it another frustrating year for parents, teachers, and students.
Lawsuit: Now that the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over the school funding case, it will be interesting to hear what they have to say in the decision we expect in October. Twelve years ago, the formula we have was Constitutional. Now the same judge says it’s not. I am anxious to return to Topeka with some guidelines from the high court, and work with a motivated and cohesive coalition. Education is the key to economic success!
Can these two be separated? Not in Kansas! We don’t have beaches, mountains, or gorgeous valleys. We have schools and businesses, and one breeds the other. In short, I am very excited about the KS Economic Growth Act, which will bring amazing scientific research opportunities and jobs to this area. I also like to talk about the quality-of-life this will add to our state… Imagine getting your revolutionary cancer treatment and surgery in Kansas City or Wichita, instead of Houston, TX or Jacksonville, FL. How much more affordable and comfortable it would be to be closer to home, closer to friends, and in a place familiar to you!
Over the past couple of years, the state legislature has raided the Comprehensive Transportation Program. Money was set aside like a trust fund each year to ensure our roads were safe and continued to keep commerce flowing throughout Kansas. Unfortunately, this was also an easy target for budget raids when times are tight. This year, we had to replace all of those withdrawals by bonding money. Kansas is bonded to the max now, but at least we have plugged the holes in the dam.
AFTER we bonded all that money and fixed the problem, there was a new bill in the wee hours that sought to do the SAME thing again! I frankly couldn’t believe it. Learning from mistakes isn’t something the legislature does well. The plan was to steal money from the transportation fund we just fixed and put it into education. Beyond the fact that over time the amount we stole would double because of inflation and interest, it is never good to pit two programs that complement each other, against each other. I STRONGLY opposed this attempt as a “no brainer”.
HOT BUTTON ISSUES
Concealed Carry of Guns
There’s not much to say on this one. More guns equal more gun violence. Plain and simple. The gun lobby’s statistics show a decrease in violent crime rates in states with concealed carry. However, their statistics neglect to include accidental shootings, near misses, and cases where a gun was turned on its owner.
I voted NO, and when it passed, I supported the Governor’s veto.
It took me a while to understand that while I may be pro-life, I am never going to be good enough on this issue because I do not want my female constituents to be forced back into dangerous alleys.
I support and have supported increased regulations for abortion clinics. And heart clinics. And cancer clinics. And dialysis clinics. It is my job to make every Kansan safer. If the real goal is to make outpatient procedures safer, to ignore the 99% of Kansans visiting other clinics is dereliction of duty.It amazes me that we make jokes every day about “crooked, immoral, and unethical politicians”, believe me, I’ve heard every one. But on the most personal of issues, we want to give those same politicians that call?