State lawmakers will officially begin the 2017 legislative session Monday in Topeka.

State lawmakers will officially begin the 2017 legislative session Monday in Topeka.

The Legislature will include several new faces from Leavenworth County as well as some returning lawmakers who represent the county.

“There is a lot of work to be done,” state Rep.-elect Debbie Deere said.

Deere, a Democrat from Lansing, will be among the new faces at the Statehouse.

She defeated incumbent Republican John Bradford to be elected to the 40th District of the Kansas House of Representatives.

Other new lawmakers from Leavenworth County are state Reps.-elect Jeff Pittman and Jim Karleskint.

Pittman, a Democrat from Leavenworth, said the representatives will be sworn in Monday at the Statehouse.

Pittman defeated incumbent Republican Tony Barton to be elected in the House’s 41st District. Karleskint, a Republican from rural Tonganoxie, unseated incumbent Connie O’Brien in the Republican primary, and he went on to win the general election in the House’s 42nd District.

Rep. Willie Dove, a Republican from rural Bonner Springs, will be among those returning to Topeka after being re-elected to the House’s 38th District.

State Sens. Steve Fitzgerald and Tom Holland, who represent Leavenworth County in the Kansas Senate, also won re-election. Fitzgerald is a Republican from Leavenworth. Holland is a Democrat from Baldwin City.

Lawmakers agree that the state’s budget will be among the top issues during the legislative session.

“The budget is a huge issue,” Pittman said. “That’s front and foremost in everybody's mind.”

Pittman said the state government needs to stop using “one-off financial fixes” to solve budgetary problems.

Fitzgerald said legislators “can’t be spending as much money as we have been spending.”

He argued that some lawmakers may have a hard time fulfilling campaign promises to increase funding.

“They’re going to have to raise taxes,” Fitzgerald said.

In addition to the budget, education will be an important issue during the upcoming session, Deere said.

Deere, who also serves on the Lansing Board of Education, said the Legislature will have to approve a new funding formula for public schools. She said lawmakers also will need to find money in the budget to support the funding formula.

Fitzgerald said a lot of work for a new funding formula already has taken place behind the scenes.

Fitzgerald said the Kansas Supreme Court may make a ruling that could result in the state spending as much as $800 million more for public schools.

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