The Kansas Senate has voted to expand a program aimed at stopping population loss in rural Kansas counties. Some counties with declining populations have been designated as so-called Rural Opportunity Zones. The program helps repay student loans and offers income tax credits to attract people to those counties.
Senator Les Donovan, a Republican from Wichita, says the program has helped rural areas.
“These are counties that are small population and losing population. This tends to stabilize their population a great deal,” says Donovan.
The bill would expand the number of counties in the program from 50 to 73. Senator Carolyn McGinn, a Republican from Sedgwick, is a former chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. She isn't sure there's evidence the program is working.
“We work very hard in ways and means to try and get answers to the questions about this program and its success and how it’s paying off. They really couldn’t bring the figures forward,” says McGinn.
The bill will now go to the Kansas House.