By Cleary Percy
Kansas House Representatives Jason Probst and Paul Waggoner discussed how upcoming Kansas legislation affects HutchCC students in a Wednesday forum at the Justice Theater..
Representative Jason Probst of the 102nd district – comprising of southern Hutchinson and some rural areas southeast of Hutchinson – spoke first at the forum. Probst, a Democrat, praised the Kansas government for its effectiveness recently, noting that the budget for the state has been balanced, and noting that as a state we have an excess in tax money.
Probst also talked about how he appreciates how two representatives from different parties can come together with no issue and talk at a forum.
A few topics that were discussed by Probst were taxes, the issue of who should receive Medicaid, and marijuana use in Kansas. Probst said that due to the excess of tax money collected, there was a possibility that state taxes could be lowered, and more specifically Probst believed it would be meaningful to lower property taxes versus sales tax. Representative Probst said he would like to see Medicaid expand to see more people have medical insurance, saying that Kansas was one of only 10 states to not accept Medicaid expansion.
On the issue of whether marijuana should be legalized, Probst wasn’t sure that recreational marijuana use would be passed in Kansas, but was in support of passing medical marijuana.
Paul Waggoner, a Republican from the 104th district which encompasses northern Hutchinson, Buhler, Inman, rural northeastern Reno County and rural southern McPherson County, opened his statements by saying that one of his focuses is watching if the government has too much overreach.
Waggoner questioned the decision of the Kansas government partly sponsoring a Panasonic battery plant in northeast Kansas. Waggoner correctly noted that the government awarded Panasonic more than $1 billion, and seemed to question if it was too much money from Kansas taxpayers. Waggoner noted that the issue of what to do with extra-tax money is going to be a topic of debate in the Kansas legislation.
Waggoner said he believes that increasing take-home pay should be prioritized for Kansans over things like government checks.
Finally, Waggoner focused on the issue of Medicaid. He believes that Medicaid should be a “hammock, not a trampoline”, saying that it should be there for those who need it.
Both Representatives agreed to field questions after the forum.