Kansas Rep. Kay Wolf, one of the few moderate Republicans to survive the August primaries in Kansas, faces Democrat Kyle Russell in the race for Kansas Senate District 7.
Both oppose the major income tax cuts signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback in May. They also agree that Johnson County homeowners should be able to invest more of their tax dollars in local schools.
They disagree on medical marijuana, further cuts to corporate income tax and voter ID laws.
Wolf, of Prairie Village, wrote in a Johnson County election questionnaire that she wants to revise the school finance formula to ensure adequate funding for local schools and increase local control. She does not think the state is funding schools adequately overall.
“We should have a say in how our own tax dollars are spent,” Wolf wrote. “I have and will continue to support reform of the K-12 school funding.”
Russell, of Roeland Park, supports increasing the local option budget, too. He wants to restore base aid funding of public schools to what they were six years ago.
“State funding for public education is woefully inadequate overall,” he said. “As a result, it’s inadequate in Shawnee Mission schools.”
Wolf has represented Kansas House District 21 since 2005. She points out that, of the two candidates, she has far more experience in legislating at the state level.
Russell said that as a Democrat, he might have the advantage when it comes to party politics. As a Republican, Wolf could be subject to pressure from more conservative state senators, while he would not, he said.
As a state representative, Wolf voted against major income tax cuts in May. She wrote that she opposed the cuts signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback because she thinks they will create a budget deficit and jeopardize the state’s ability to pay for schools, roads, prisons and other services. Wolf names economic growth as her top campaign issue, along with a balanced, reasoned approach to taxes.
Russell called those same tax cuts “very irresponsible,” and said he would work to reverse them if elected. He said the “three-legged stool” of income, property and sales taxes has served the state well, and that eliminating income tax will not pay for itself.
The two candidates differ on several points that they both addressed in a Kansas City Star questionnaire.
Russell supports legislation allowing for legal, medical use of marijuana, writing that it is not wise to use tax dollars to lock up sick people.
Wolf wrote that she is not ready to support medical marijuana, but would like to see the issue studied further.
At the moment, neither candidate is ready to support reducing corporate income taxes. Wolf will support it when state revenues return to normal levels, while Russell simply opposes it. Russell said he thinks education, not tax rates, attract businesses and jobs to Johnson County.
Wolf and Russell also disagree on some immigration issues. Wolf supports voter ID laws on the grounds that citizens ordinarily use photo ID for a variety of daily transactions. But she does not support requiring employers to check job applicants’ citizenship through the E-verify program.
Russell opposes mandatory voter ID laws, he said, because voting — unlike driving or buying alcohol — is a constitutional right. He questioned whether voter fraud exists in Kansas and said those laws make it more difficult for elderly and low-income residents to vote.