Top Stories Of The Week
George Brett was back down in the dugout – as a coach. And the Kansas Legislature extended its session into June for the first time since 1861. KCUR's Steve Bell recaps on those and other top stories of the week on the KCUR Saturday News Review.
Stalemate continues in Kansas GOP, legislature approaches 100th day
Thursday night, the Kansas House voted down a two-level Senate sales tax proposal 94 to 18. Johnson County GOP Representative John Rubin was among those firmly against it. Rubin said even with a lower sales tax on groceries than on other items, the proposal was still a tax increase and a regressive one. He told his colleagues that the the plan laid the state's burden on the poor and the elderly, who could least afford it..
A Friday proposal for a 6.15% across the board sales tax stagnated without a vote, as did a budget plan House and Senate committees approved. Mission Hills Representative Barbara Bollier.told KCUR'S Laura Ziegler so many proposals are being presented that no one can accurate speculate on the budget and tax plans that will be chosen. She said things in the Legislature were “a mess.”
Friday evening both the House and Senate adjourned till Saturday, day 99. The overtime price tag for the session stood at $375,000 and counting.
Also on the House and Senate agendas was a bill blocking Common Core educational standards for Kansas. Despite rumors in the Senate, many House members denied that the demise of Common Core was their “price” to vote in favor of a reversal of the scheduled sales tax decrease.
Missouri tax bill likely headed for veto, override
A bill reducing Missouri's Income tax and raising its sales tax to be more like Kansas seemed headed for a veto. Governor Nixon, who has already said the state can ill-afford the revenue decrease, added a new objection on Thursday: the bill includes sales tax on tax prescriptions.
Lee's Summit Senator Will Kraus said that was an oversight and the right thing for the governor to do was to sign the legislation and count on the Assembly to correct the oversight. Kraus added that he thinks Nixon will veto the tax plan and the Republican-dominated legislature will override the veto.
KC council passes ethics code
The Kansas City city council kept its promise and passed a tweaked version of a new ethics code. The revised code prohibits elected officials or city employees from accepting any gift or consideration worth more than $1,000 from anyone who potentially could do business with the city or have a vested interest in legislation. It also requires that all gifts over a $200 value be reported quarterly.
Phase II streetcar study commissioned
The council also let a $1.9 million contract for an alternatives analysis of possible routes for a phase 2 of the streetcar system. The study will compare the need for and potential ridership of 7 different possible extensions of the Phase I downtown streetcar route. The city also published an invitation for bids for the management of Phase I construction.
Supreme Court decisions could affect transit plans
The Missouri Supreme Court refusing to rule on the constitutionality of a lawsuit challenging the funding method for streetcar system phase one, declaring that the city would have to wait for a decision from an appeals court before approaching the state's highest judicial body. Transit chair Russ Johnson said the resulting delay probably ends chances for $20 million in federal funding.
The Supreme Court did agree would review Clay Chastain's appeal of his challenge of the city council's refusal to put his transit initiative on the ballot. Chastain contends that the initiative process is supreme, and that since he gathered the required number of valid signatures the council must put his plan on the ballot. The city attorney maintains that the council is obligated to refuse to send the voters any plan that does not provide funding.
City moves ahead with Swope Park soccer complex
The threatened lawsuit over city plans to use surplus TIF funds for a 10-field Swope Park soccer complex never happened. The TIF was liquidated and the surplus was divided among the tax jurisdictions involved, meaning the Raytown School District got several million dollars. This week, the council passed a revised funding plan for the $13.5 million project.
Mayor James said the complex not only will provide an opportunity for Kansas City, Missouri to vie for soccer tournaments that would traditionally go to Johnson County. And, he said, it is time for the city to start addressing its long neglected recreational options for youth in the central city.
Finance chair Jan Marcason praised the idea of providing sports facilities for young people, but thought the freed up money should be left in the general fund. She says the city needs to formulate a written policy to deal with similar future opportunities.
Royals falter, Brett takes coaching role
The Royals season, which started with great promise, turned to disaster. With no victory since May 5. Manager Ned Yost called on the public for patience. “What do you want me to do?” he asked at a news conference, “take off my belt and spank them? Yell at them?”
On Thursday, the Royals appointed George Brett batting coach. The Royals broke their losing streak Thursday night, but came out of it in last place in the American League Central.