Senate Bill 466 eliminates 1.5 mills of property tax set aside for maintenance of university buildings and other state facilities, replacing the funding with a general fund revenue transfer that’s subject to funds being available. You’d think providing $54 million in property tax relief would be a slam dunk, but the bill was opposed by state universities and initially failed.

The six Kansas public universities want a dedicated funding stream because they don’t trust legislators to make adequate maintenance funds available, and some legislators agreed that they couldn’t be trusted.

Three straight years of income tax hikes will propel a 33% jump in state spending between 2017 and 2023, but there’s still demand for even more spending. K-12 education, social services, and other important functions are subject to the regular appropriations process, and university maintenance shouldn’t be exempt because they had good lobbyists.

$54 million in property tax relief is a small but important step in the right direction. As explained at, property tax increased 151% since 1997. That’s more than three times the rate of inflation and it’s pushing some people on fixed incomes out of their homes.

Excessive property tax hikes are driven by state and local government spending decisions, and that’s why every dollar spent should go through the appropriations process and local officials should be required to vote on the entire property tax increase they impose.

Dave Trabert (CEO of Kansas Policy Institute), Overland Park