"He works across party lines to reach solutions -the type of lawmaker we need in Topeka"
-Wichita Eagle Editorial 10/27/16
Tom Sawyer values hard work- He feels we deserve a legislature that works together to solve our problems and is accountable to the public.
Tom Sawyer has earned a reputation in the legislature of being a consensus builder. He works across party lines to solve our state's problems and to improve the lives of working families. When he was House Majority Leader in 1992 many newspapers across the state hailed it as the most successful legislative session ever.
In 2012 Tom Sawyer was frustrated watching the legislature fight and fail to do its job.
When the legislature passed a budget that would leave us millions of dollars in debt, Tom Sawyer had enough and decided it was time to try to return to the legislature to restore it to a body that works together to solve problems.
Tom Sawyer was dedicated to undoing the reckless 2012 tax plan that hurt our children's education, programs for the disabled and our seniors, and was ruining the financial stability of our state.
That is the reason he returned to the legislature in 2012 and in 2017 he led the charge to pass the law that undoes most of the bad parts of the 2012 tax experiment.
In 2019 the National Tax Foundation recognized his work on behalf of Kansas taxpayers and awarded him the Outstanding Achievement in State Tax Reform award.
"Sawyer is a respected and needed voice for common sense in Topeka"
-Wichita Eagle Editorial 10/23/14
Tom Sawyer values family and the value of a hard earned dollar.
He feels that the state should budget more like a family - a family lives within its means while taking care of its children and its seniors.
Tom Sawyer feels that the state budget needs to be on a no frills diet.During Tom Sawyer's previous term in the Kansas House, the state cut $159 million in waste out of the budget. Examples include:
Tom Sawyer feels that we made some progress in cutting waste, but more work needs to be done. He feels we need to budget carefully so that we cut the waste but don't take a meat ax to vital state programs and our children's education.
Tom also feels that the state should pay its debts off during the good times so that we won't have to raise taxes or cut vital programs during the bad times.
In 2017 Tom Sawyer led the fight to close the tax loophole that allowed over 330,000 business owners (some of which make many millions of dollars) to pay no Kansas income tax. That reckless tax plan devastated our budget and it is going to take awhile for our state to recover.
Tom is fighting hard to continue the rebuilding process and work against those that want to once again give big tax breaks to the wealthy. We can't afford to go back. We must learn from our mistakes and we can not afford to repeat them.
Tom Sawyer values a good education system that is accountable to the public
He feels that the state could improve our children's education by reducing class sizes in the early grades. Tom feels that class sizes need to be small and administration should be even smaller. He feels that teachers can make a huge difference in our children's lives and we need to do everything we can to retain our good teachers.
Our children's education needs to be our top budget priority instead of a last minute afterthought at the end of the session. The reckless 2012 tax plan forced many school districts to make deep cuts. In 2018, Tom Sawyer supported a 5 year plan that has been approved by the courts to restore our children's education funding to constitutionally accepted levels.
Tom Sawyer values a society that takes care of its seniors.
He has fought to protect our senior citizens. He has worked to keep them from paying state income taxes on their social security, to increase their homestead tax refund and supported programs that help them
to stay in their homes as long as possible. Tom has received awards and honors recognizing him for his work in behalf of our seniors
Unfortunately the reckless 2012 tax plan put some of our senior programs in jeopardy. We are rebuilding our programs for seniors but it is going to take some time to get them fully restored.
Tom Sawyer values good paying jobs.
When Tom Sawyer previously served in the house, he worked to pass a bill that could bring a thousand new high paying aircraft maintenance jobs to Wichita. Tom also supported the BioSciences bill that could bring us many high paying jobs in the future. And when Tom Sawyer found out that the State was outsourcing call center jobs overseas, he offered an amendment that put a stop to it!
Tom also feels that we need to make it easier for our kids to get a higher education. He feels that the state should use some of its lottery and gaming money for college scholarships. One of the best ways to attract new high paying jobs to Kansas is by providing companies with a well educated, highly trained workforce.
Last session, Tom Sawyer worked across party lines to extend unemployment benefits and to end the one week waiting period to receive unemployment compensation.
Tom Sawyer on the house floor leading the debate against the huge 2015 tax increase. Unfortunately he lost that battle as the pro Brownback forces were able to get the bare minimum number of votes needed to give Kansas the second highest tax on food in the nation. Tom Sawyer is dedicated to reducing and eventually eliminating the Kansas sales tax on food. Kansas is one of just 14 states that still tax food at all.
In 1992, as House Majority Leader, he led the effort to rewrite our school finance formula that reduced our property taxes by 29%. In 1995, he led the effort that cut our motor vehicle taxes by 50% over 5 years. In 1996, he led the effort to give us a homestead exemption that cut every homeowners property taxes.
In 2015, Tom led the fight against the Brownback tax increase that gave us the second highest tax on food in the country.
Since 1999 our property taxes have risen by 94%. In 2016 he worked with a bipartisan group of legislators to put a property tax lid in place so that property taxes don't go any higher.
In 2017, Tom Sawyer led the fight to end the tax loophole that allowed over 330,000 business owners to pay no Kansas Income Tax (some of which make millions of dollars).
Tom Sawyer has long called for the elimination of the sales tax on food. He promised that once the state has recovered from the 2012 reckless tax plan and the economy improves, he would once again push to eliminate this unfair tax.
In 2021 Tom Sawyer has introduced a bill that would eliminate the food sales tax by July 1, 2022.
Tom Sawyer values a safe community.
He feels that if we aren't safe in our homes nothing else matters much. Tom Sawyer is a strong supporter of Community policing and supports giving law enforcement the tools they need to keep us safe.
Tom Sawyer also supports Criminal Justice Reform. He feels that our prison space should be occupied by dangerous criminals, while those with substance abuse problems need to be in treatment programs.
The Kansas State Troopers Association recognizes his work and have endorsed him over the years.
Tom Sawyer values good, affordable health care.
Tom feels that Doctors and Patients should be in charge of health care decisions. He is working to make prescription drugs more affordable and to make health insurance more affordable and available to all Kansans. He is working to expand Medicaid coverage so that 150,000 more working Kansans can have health insurance.
Tom Sawyer values an open government that is accountable to the voters.
He led the fight to improve the campaign and ethics laws in Kansas government. As chair of the House Ethics and Elections committee in 1991 he led the effort to pass the biggest ethics reform law ever passed in Kansas.
He continues his fight to reduce the influence of special interest lobbyists and to make Kansas Government more accountable to the public. In the 2008 session he co-sponsored a bill that will make it easier for the district attorney to prosecute violations of the Kansas Open Meetings Act.
This year he is pushing to have all legislative hearings and committee meetings broadcast over the web. No more secret meetings!
"Mr. Sawyer, a Wichita accountant, is the sort of citizen advocate you'd like to see in every race at every level of government. He is a quick mind. He's informed and opinionated. He comes up with good ideas, then sticks with them. He's also a nice guy with an engaging enthusiasm and respect for public service." -Wichita Eagle Editorial, 1998