A JOINT LEGISLATIVE STATEMENT
for Emporia and Lyon County

2017 Joint Legislative Statement

A city of charm and tradition, Emporia and Lyon County are known for friendly people and great hospitality. Serving as the county seat, Emporia is the largest city in Lyon County, covering 12.12 square miles. The city’s population is approximately 25,000, and Lyon County is over 33,500. It is not just what we have—it’s who we are. We are friends, families, and neighbors living in a community where heritage meets the future with grace and style. Our economy is driven by an adaptable and career ready workforce, a good transportation system and quality health care. As a community, we have joined together in this 2017 Legislative Statement sharing what is important to us and the future of our area.

Economic Development

The business community in the Emporia Area is diverse and includes the manufacturing of value-added agricultural products, animal nutrition products, meat processing, and food products. Other manufactured items produced in Emporia are automotive, printing equipment, plastic products, and pressure vessels for the oil and gas industries. We are responsible business people who understand that tax dollars fairly assessed and properly expended are an investment in the kind of State we want for ourselves, our customers, our employees and our children. Economic development initiatives need positive attention from a legislature focused on job creation.

Therefore, it is our position that:

  • We support the Department of Commerce having a professional staff available to work projects for communities across the State of Kansas.
  • We support proven economic development and workforce development programs that are used as critical tools in the Emporia Area to leverage private investment including the PEAK and HPIP programs.
  • We support the efforts to return the enterprise zone economic development benefits such as the sales tax exemption, job creation tax credit, and investment tax credit for the non-metropolitan counties that were eliminated in 2011.
  • Recognizing the importance of strengthening small businesses and encouraging entrepreneurial endeavors to the overall economic health and growth of the state of Kansas, we support legislation that will enhance successful small business development in the state.

Tax Policy

We support a balanced and fair tax policy that does not put an advantage of one group of Kansans over another, such as business owners over their employees. Business people understand, that tax dollars fairly assessed and properly expended are an investment in the kind of State we want for ourselves, our customers, our employees and our children. Fair tax policy can drive job growth and recruit new businesses, but only if the revenues are used to build excellent infrastructure, provide high quality education and enhance the quality of life. The inability of the current tax policy to meet revenue estimates, thus requiring cuts and transfers, concerns us and those businesses looking to locate and operate in Kansas. We also believe pushing taxing decisions to the local level while burdening them with caps abdicates the state’s responsibility to create uniform and fair policies across our state.

Therefore, we support tax reform that produces a balanced and stable tax structure that is fiscally responsible and which creates a competitive and pro-growth business environment.

Health Care

Emporia is home to Newman Regional Health, Central Care Cancer Center, Flint Hills Community Health Center, CrossWinds Counseling and Wellness Center, Newman Medical Plaza, and numerous independent practitioners. It is important for the Emporia Area to give high quality, affordable healthcare for all its residents. We support healthcare, behavioral health, dental care, and various wellness initiatives that ensure sufficient funding for providers.

The four percent reduction affects more than just our larger agencies, it affects small business, such as home health. It is estimated that nearly eleven million dollars will be lost in FY2017. The current environment has put more stress on our local agencies. One significant area of concern is mental health coverage as there is a need for the State to address it in a more comprehensive way. The funding stream for mental health care has been reduced significantly, even though the demand for these services from the uninsured and underinsured continues to increase. Lack of proper funding has forced many valuable education and prevention programs to be discontinued, and as a result, our community is facing the far more costly alternative of public safety, increased jail time, emergency room visits, and hospital stays.

Expanding KanCare is projected to bring more than $8.2 million per year in additional health care spending to Lyon County. Expanding KanCare will also help bring 1,046 residents in Lyon County health care coverage and create 52 new jobs. We strongly believe that KanCare should be managed by Kansans for Kansans.

Therefore, it is our position that:

  • The 2017 Legislature will recognize and appreciate the financial stability that increased funding would create for Kansas, hospitals, community health centers, mental health agencies, and small businesses such as home health.
  • We support reinstating full funding of the block grant provided by the State of Kansas in the Kansas Mental Health Reform Act of 1990
  • We support participation in Medicaid Expansion, without a negative impact on current allocations.
  • KanCare should be managed by Kansans for Kansans within the borders of Kansas.

Transportation

Six major highway systems serve the economy of Lyon County, with Emporia being at the crossroads of four of them: the KTA, US 50, I-35, and K-99. US 56 is a vital link across north Lyon County and accesses the KTA near Admire, while K-170 is an important economic link between Lyon and Osage Counties.

Our transportation systems are the foundation for the efficient movement of goods and people, and are crucial for economic development, business retention/expansion and job growth. Kansas has had a long tradition of good, safe roads and the jobs necessary to maintain them is being dismantled by the diversion of funds from KDOT. It is imperative that KDOT and other government entities be financially committed to the improvement of roads and bridges in an effort to meet the ever increasing demands being placed on these aging structures. This includes efforts to streamline the process required for obtaining over-dimensional and overweight permits.

Therefore, it is our position that:

  • We support the continuation of funding to assist with economic development projects that include transportation improvements.
  • As of 2016, nearly $2.4 billion has been taken from KDOT and transferred to the state general fund or state agencies to help fund the state budget. Funds designated for transportation should not be used for any other purpose.
  • We support a commitment from KDOT to make substantial improvements for a corridor between Emporia to Manhattan.
  • We support improvement along Highway 99 between Highway 54 north to I-70 to accommodate truck traffic, and general safety.

Education

Education has always been an essential component to the health and well-being of the Emporia – Lyon County community. From our public and private pre-K programs to a continuum of educational opportunities for post-secondary students, we understand just how vital education is in our capacity to attract and retain meaningful employment opportunities across the State of Kansas.

We believe every public school student in Kansas deserves and equal opportunity to be college and career ready, as defined by the Rose Standards and the Kansas State Board of Education Kansas Can mission and vision:

  • Some students will require greater supports to meet standards
  • Funding to districts must be directly related to what it costs to educate each individual student
  • Any formula must meet constitutional requirements to equity and adequacy;
  • The formula should recognize local control and provide funding of educational services
  • The Legislature and school districts need budgeting predictability

Emporia is uniquely proud to be home to one of Kansas’s six technical colleges, Flint Hills Technical College, and one of six regent universities, Emporia State University. Graduates of these institutions make up a significant part of the workforce and the economic landscape in our state.

Flint Hills Technical College continues to create innovative hands-on opportunities for their students and forge partnerships with industry and community. Recent and continuing innovations include:

  • A new articulation agreement between FHTC and ESU that allows student following the academic plan to graduate from FHTC with an associate’s degree in Healthcare Administration Management, enroll at ESU and obtain their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in a true 2 +2 program;
  • FHTC’s welding technology and automation facilities, boosted by a KanTrain grant, contain state of the art equipment that prepares students to be successful in their careers.
  • FHTC supports workforce development and collaborates with many local manufacturers for specialized training. All programs maintain strong ties to business and industry as Flint Hills Technical College continues to provide the best trained employees possible.

Emporia State University aims to change lives for the common good by preparing students for lifelong learning, rewarding careers, and adaptive leadership. As a key economic driver for the Lyon County region, ESU makes a $330 million economic impact annually and offers comprehensive academic programs such as:

  • ESU’s teacher preparation program is hailed as one of the best teacher preparation programs in the nation, and our graduating teachers influence the future of thousands of students each year;
  • Emporia State is also home to an AACSB accredited School of Business, an accreditation held by less than 5% of business schools throughout the world;
  • ESU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences encompasses many award-winning programs, including the Department of Nursing, whose graduates scored a 93.9% passage rate on the latest NCLEX exam, which is well above the national average. Nursing major Adam Tebben was named ’16-’17  president of the 60,000 member National Student Nurses’ Association; and
  • One-third of ESU’s student body is comprised of graduate students, and Emporia State’s graduate programs are ranked among the best online programs in Kansas.

Our diversity is our strength, and yet the language and financial challenges that well over half of Lyon County families face each day are testaments to the critical need for early learning experiences and educational support through career readiness. Jobs of the future will require a much higher level of skill and training. We recognize that without the positive contributions that our educational institutions provide, there would be a critical void across the State of Kansas as well as within our local community.

Therefore, it is our position that:

  • We supports efforts to assure a ready workforce through college and career-ready standards aligned with other states across the nation and the development and expansion of technical and professional career training opportunities like that which was introduced in SB 155. Over 300 students have benefited from this program at Flint Hills Technical College this past year. Thirteen programs, and two short term courses with nearly 900 students from its inception.
  • We support efforts to assure an adequate and equitable investment in public education at all levels Pre-K through higher education that keeps pace with the increasing cost of living and guards against disparate opportunities for students across the state.
  • We oppose shifting a greater share of the financial burden of education to local taxpayers in the form of increasing levies and to students in the form of rising tuition.