Government

KCUR News
6:14 pm
Thu January 28, 2010

TIF Suit Appears Over: City Surrenders

Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City has surrendered to demands of a lawsuit by Jackson County government. The suit challenged Kansas City power to direct handling of tax dollars due counties, schools and libraries.

The embittered battle of recent weeks appears over with unanimous approval of an ordinance allowing members outside city jurisdiction have full voting power on the Tax Increment Finance Commision. That was essence of the lawsuit set for trial next month.

The TIF Commission allows tax breaks to approved developers.

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KCUR News
10:30 am
Thu January 28, 2010

Kansas House Rejects Sales Tax Hike

Topeka, Kan. – Kansas House lawmakers are going to be looking at new ways to fill a projected $400 million state deficit. That's because Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson's proposal to use a sales tax increase to help fill the hole was rejected by a House committee. The proposal would have increased the state sales tax by 1 percentage point for a three-year period.

 

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KCUR News
10:25 am
Thu January 28, 2010

Missouri House Votes To Bans Texting Behind The Wheel

Jefferson City, Mo. – Legislation that would expand Missouri's ban on texting-while-driving to everyone has drawn lots of support. In a Senate committee meeting, lobbyists for highway workers, law enforcement, senior citizens, and bicyclists spoke in favor of the bill. No one spoke against it. The bill is sponsored by Democratic Senator Ryan McKenna of Jefferson County.

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KCUR News
7:23 pm
Wed January 27, 2010

Snow Storms Drain City Rainy Day Fund

Orange snow plows contrasted with gray skies and white snowbanks as 2010 began.
File photo.

Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City Public Works Director Stan Harris told the council Finance and Audit Committee Wednesday that the full year's 2.5 million snow removal budget was no match for the series of storms that ushered in 2010.

Harris said as of January 3, at the end of that storm, his department had expended a total of roughly 2.8 million dollars, about 300,000 dollars over the budget for the full year.

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KCUR News
5:28 pm
Wed January 27, 2010

Senate Rejects Proposal To Restore Kansas Medicaid Cuts

Topeka, Kan. – The Kansas Senate has rejected an attempt to restore 22 million dollars in Medicaid provider payments cut by Governor Mark Parkinson.

Republican Senator Jeff Colyer of Overland Park authored the proposal. He says the cuts cost the state 60 million dollars in federal matching funds and could hurt the availability of services.

On the Senate floor today, he told lawmakers they should restore the cuts while officials look for efficiencies and other ways for the Medicaid program to save money.

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KCUR News
10:48 am
Tue January 26, 2010

Senators Review Missouri's Bleak Budget

Jefferson City, Mo. – Missouri's budget picture remains bleak, as lawmakers begin to consider Governor Jay Nixon's spending plan and come up with their own.

State Budget Director Linda Luebbering reminded the Senate Appropriations Committee Monday that revenue collections will continue to lag. But she also said Missouri is expected to receive $300 million in federal dollars that can be used for state expenses.

GOP Senator Kurt Schaefer of Columbia expressed concern that the Nixon Administration is depending on money that may not come.

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KCUR News
10:51 am
Mon January 25, 2010

Kansas National Guard Heads Out To Help Haiti

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – Around 50 Kansas Air National Guard troops are in Cuba for a four-month deployment to help with the recovery in Haiti. The Guantanamo Bay, Cuba naval base is a major staging ground for recovery efforts. Right now it's unclear if the guardsmen will stay in Cuba and work from there or be ordered to Haiti. Stephen Koranda went to the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base with some of the troops.

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KCUR News
10:08 am
Mon January 25, 2010

KBA To Legislature: 'We're doing what you told us to do!'

Kansas City – Members of the Kansas Bioscience Authority told Governor Mark Parkinson, legislators, researchers and entrepreneurs last night they have been successful in recruiting investment from biotech and animal health companies for Kansas.

That's the mission of the KBA, which was established as a result of the $581 million dollar Economic Growth Act of 2004.

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KCUR News
4:17 pm
Fri January 22, 2010

City Peace Overture Fails, TIF Lawsuit Is Filed

Kansas City, Mo. – It was no idle threat. The Jackson County Executive has filed suit against Kansas City seeking to force changes in a panel that gives developers tax breaks.

The Tax Increment Finance Commission carries a lot of clout. Its six members are appointed by the mayor.

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KCUR News
9:42 am
Fri January 22, 2010

Kansas Committee Hears Proposal For Sales Tax Increase

Kansas City, Mo. – Supporters of the governor's proposed 1 cent sales tax increase are hoping the bill will advance in the Kansas House. The House Taxation Committee took testimony from proponents of the increase.

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KCUR News
9:38 am
Fri January 22, 2010

Council Attempt To Appease County Over TIF Commission

Kansas City, Mo. – The Kansas City Council made a late-hour attempt to stave off a threatened lawsuit by Jackson County over the Tax Increment Finance Commission.

Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders and others say the county, school districts, and libraries lose money to TIF projects, yet have no representation.

Sanders threatened the lawsuit and said it would be filed unless the city reformed the TIF commission to meet a state law requiring an 11 member commission and not six as it stands now.

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KCUR News
3:06 am
Fri January 22, 2010

Council Approves Overhaul Base Lease

The American Airlines overhaul base at KCI.
Photo courtesy of KMBC TV-9 News.

Kansas City, Mo. – The Kansas City city council wasted no time in approving a lease on the overhaul base at KCI. The proposed deal with Jet Midwest was first announced last week, and today the contract is ready for the inking.

What can you say when you come up with a deal to fill most of a space due to soon become vacant for about $700,000 a year... with the possibility of up to 600 good-paying jobs within three or so years?

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KCUR News
5:08 pm
Thu January 21, 2010

Nixon: Narrow DC Focus Hamstrings Jobs Fight

Kansas City, Mo. – Touring the state to promote jobs growth, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon lamented what he called a disjointed' process in Washington to energize the economy.

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KCUR News
10:42 am
Thu January 21, 2010

Missouri Legislative Update: Live From Jefferson City

Jefferson City, MO –

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KCUR News
7:18 pm
Wed January 20, 2010

Council Girds To Defend E-Tax

Kansas City, Mo. – With an eastern Missouri millionaire contributing a half-million dollars to a campaign to end earnings taxes, Kansas City's city council is the threat to revenues seriously.

Council Finance and Audit chair Deb Hermann says it's not that City Hall is in love with the idea of an earnings tax, but that the tax contributes $200 million a year toward paying the city's bills. She says, "loss of that revenue without something in place ahead of time to replace it would be devastating."

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KCUR News
4:46 pm
Wed January 20, 2010

Prelude To A Vote For A Vote

Kansas City, Mo. – A statewide drive to quash the earnings tax in Kansas City and St. Louis is about to begin in earnest. Initiative petitions will be circulated no later than this weekend to promote a Missouri referendum.

The drive will be well funded, in the words of the Jefferson City attorney who drew up the proposal. A half million dollars has been donated as seed money. It comes from St. Louis businessman Rex Sinquefield.

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KCUR News
4:58 pm
Tue January 19, 2010

Legal Knuckles Bared In TIF Tempest

Kansas City, Mo. –
The Jackson County executive pledges to sue Kansas City government unless the city's Tax Increment Finance Commission is opened to broader representation. Documents supporting a motion for temporary restraining order are written and ready to file for a donnybrook-in-the-making.

Jackson County estimates it has $3.5 Million in revenue diverted to TIFs yet has no vote in spending it. Missouri law requires an 11 member TIF commission to move a project. Kansas City's has six, appointed by the mayor.

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The Economy Project
2:12 pm
Mon January 18, 2010

Kansas Likely to Need Loan for Unemployment Benefits

Topeka, KS – The Kansas Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund is running out of cash. The fund may start drawing loans from the federal government as soon as next month to keep paying benefits.

The fund pays for unemployment benefits in Kansas. High unemployment rates have meant millions in payments and that has drained the fund over the last year. There is currently around $60 million available to pay unemployment benefits. at the beginning of last year, the fund held more than $500 million.

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KCUR News
11:22 am
Fri January 15, 2010

Field Filing For Kansas State Secretary

Topeka, Kan. – There are now two Democrats and two Republicans running for Kansas Secretary of State. The most recent to announce are already serving in state government.

Democratic State Senator Chris Steineger of Kansas City, Kansas said today he intends to file as an official candidate next week. He appointed a treasurer this week, allowing him to raise funds. Kansas Securities Commissioner Chris Biggs chose a treasurer last fall and says he expects to file in coming months.

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KCUR News
10:01 am
Thu January 14, 2010

Republican Leaders Say No New Taxes

Jefferson City, Mo. – Republican leaders in the Missouri House and Senate returned to their party's traditional themes, after talking up ethics and the economy on the legislature's
opening day last week.

Led by Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, GOP leaders pledged first and foremost not to raise taxes this year.

"Taking more money from Missouri families is not a sensible solution to fix whatever budget problems we face today," said Kinder.

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KCUR News
9:59 am
Thu January 14, 2010

Audit Recommends Tracking Sales Tax Exemptions

Jefferson City, Mo. – An audit finds Missouri needs to do a better job of tracking how much revenue is lost through sales tax exemptions.

State Auditor Susan Montee said the state has 131 tax exemptions, ranging from food and medicine to construction materials.

"It is a number of $150 billion that is being subtracted off of gross sales revenue. Five years ago in our report it was 120 billion," said Montee.

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KCUR News
5:29 am
Tue January 12, 2010

Financial Famine Backs Lawmakers Into Corner

Topeka, Kan. –
Kansas lawmakers from both parties have registered expected reactions to the governor's proposals to hike sales taxes and cigarette taxes. Now many are conceding there is a need for tax increases of some kind.

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KCUR News
5:16 pm
Mon January 11, 2010

Smoker Taxes May Hit Legislative Hopper

Kansas City, Kan. – When the Kansas governor gives his State of the State address this evening he will outline proposals to balance the budget with a shortfall nearing $400 million in the next fiscal year. Tobacco taxes are expected to be on the agenda.

Governor Mark Parkinson has already said he would ask lawmakers to raise the tax, now at 79 cents a pack. The national average is a dollar 34. Aides will not suggest the governor's exact proposal.

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KCUR News
3:30 pm
Mon January 11, 2010

Wiesenthal Memorial Highway Bill Gets Widespread Bitartisan Support

Kansas City – Springfield Representative Sara Lampe introduced highway-naming legislation today in an ongoing effort to counter the publicity a regional Nazi group has received for cleaning up the highway.

Representative Lampe introduced House Bill 1668 today in Jefferson City. The bill has 76 cosigners from both parties, and will name a stretch of Highway 160 after Jewish historian and Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal.

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KCUR News
12:23 pm
Mon January 11, 2010

Lawmakers Reconsider Missouri Tax System

Jefferson City, Mo. – If you pay personal income tax in Missouri chances are you're in the top tax bracket. It takes only $9000 in taxable income a year to reach the state's top tier. State lawmakers set the tax brackets back in 1931 and they haven't changed since. Now some say Missouri's tax system is due for an update; both to address the basic issue of fairness and a growing budget hole in Jefferson City.

St. Louis Public Radio's Maria Altman reports.

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KCUR News
12:21 pm
Mon January 11, 2010

Earnings Tax Debated In KC

Kansas City, Mo. – If you live or work in Kansas City, Missouri a 1% earnings tax takes a bite out of your paycheck. The tax has been around for over forty years. But a petition will soon begin circulating around the state, to bring the "e-tax" before all Missouri voters, and possibility outlaw Kansas City, and St. Louis from collecting that type of tax.

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KCUR News
2:43 am
Fri January 8, 2010

Council Says "No" on E-Tax Repeal Initiative

Mayor Mark Funkhouser urges the city council to study a proposed initiative measure,not reject it.
Photo courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – The latest clash between Mayor Mark Funkhouser and the city council is over a Missouri initiative petition drive that would outlaw the earnings taxes in Kansas City and St, Louis.

Funkhouser told a Kansas City Star reporter last week that he thought the idea merits some consideration. Other council members didn't agree.

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KCUR News
11:05 pm
Thu January 7, 2010

Kansas State Library Taking Text Message Questions

Topeka, KS – Kansas residents wanting to know the name of their legislator or the status of a bill can now text the Statehouse for answers.

The information service is a function of the Legislative Reference Desk of the State Library. On a given day the desk receives as many as 75 calls seeking information.

Most calls to 1-800-432-3924 are answered within minutes. If it takes longer, librarians will return the call with the requested information. All questions and calls are confidential.

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KCUR News
7:34 pm
Wed January 6, 2010

Council Scraps Dress Code Commission Idea

Former councilman Alvin Brooks makes his point against the citizens' commission idea while Alex Thomas and Carol Coe wait their turn.
Video frame courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – A city council committee deferred to civil rights leaders yesterday, and scrapped Mayor Funkhouser's plan to create a citizens' oversight committee to look into dress code discrimination and other violations of the public accommodations ordinance.

The man who lost to Funkhouser in the last election, Alvin Brooks, led a delegation whose size was shrunk by the snowy weather.

Brooks said he represented a sizable group of civil rights, community and religious leaders, whom he named as he enumerated their organizations.

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KCUR News
7:03 am
Wed January 6, 2010

Kansas Senators Call for Rainy Day Fund

Lawrence, KS – Two Kansas state senators hope to create a "rainy day" fund to help with future budget problems. Topeka Democrat Laura Kelly and Leawood Republican John Vratil unveiled a proposal that would amend the state's Constitution. Vratil says the change would require the state to put money aside during good economic times and essentially save it for a rainy day.

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