State Rep. Kay Wolf and Mission Hills businessman David Harvey are running for the Kansas Senate seat in the 7th District for two very different reasons.
Backed by several conservative groups, Harvey wants to shake up a Senate that has been criticized for blocking Gov. Sam Brownback’s agenda.
He criticized the Senate for playing games with taxes and redistricting. He thinks the impasse that led the courts to draw new election districts is a signal that the Senate is out of step with the electorate.
“At the end of the day, that just showed the arrogance of the people in the Senate,” Harvey said of the redistricting dispute. “They believed that they should be able to dictate what they wanted without a lot of working together.”
Wolf, a state representative from Prairie Village, said the state doesn’t need a Senate that will roll over to the whims of a conservative-leaning House.
“I believe you need a balanced Legislature,” Wolf said. “We already have a very conservative House. If we move the Senate to (being) as conservative as the House is now, I don’t think that’s good for Kansas.”
Wolf and Harvey are running in the Republican primary to replace Sen. Terrie Huntington, a moderate Republican who along with seven other senators had been targeted for defeat this year by the conservative Kansas Chamber of Commerce.
The winner will face Democrat Kyle Russell in the fall.
The chamber’s political action committee has given its support to Harvey, who ran unsuccessfully against Huntington two years ago. Harvey also has the support of other conservative groups, including Kansans for Life and the Kansas Republican Assembly.
Wolf, meanwhile, claims support from more moderate groups such as the Kansas National Education Association, Kansas Families United for Public Education and Educating All Children in Kansas.
Both candidates are generally supportive of Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposal for overhauling school finance, which would give school districts the unlimited ability to raise property taxes.
They differ on other issues, however.
Wolf opposes giving the governor the ability to select appeals court judges. Harvey thinks the state needs to move to a system like the federal government, where the governor nominates judges who are confirmed by Senate.
Harvey supports allowing people with licensed concealed-carry permits to carry their firearms into public buildings. Wolf has opposed the legislation.
On taxes, Wolf voted against the massive tax-cuts that the Legislature approved this year but are forecast to leave the state with gaping holes in its budget in the future. Harvey said he would have opposed that bill, too, blaming the Senate for playing games by making it so costly that few thought it would pass.
Wolf did vote for a much less costly tax plan in March that would have cut state income taxes incrementally and eliminated the sales tax on food. The bill Wolf supported also would have kept the deductions in place for home mortgage interest and charitable contributions.
Harvey, who wants to eliminate the income tax, said he would have supported the plan that Brownback originally presented. Brownback’s plan originally proposed steeper income tax cuts than the bill Wolf supported. But Brownback would have partly paid for those cuts by eliminating deductions for home mortgage interest and charitable contributions as well as keeping a temporary sales tax increase in place.
Harvey said the governor’s original plan to cut income taxes would have more than offset what homeowners might have lost with the home mortgage deduction.
Wolf said she supports tax cuts that are “reasonable” that the state can afford, but she said it’s not responsible to pass tax cuts that leave big holes in the state budget.
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