Kansas budget

As the Kansas legislature nears an all-time record for longest session in Kansas history, Up To Date brings you the latest on the budget impasse and the threat of possible furloughs. 

Guests:

Wikimedia Commons

As the Kansas Legislature fights over how to balance the budget that kicks in at the end of the month, the state is preparing for possible employee furloughs.

On Wednesday, the University of Kansas sent an email to all employees outlining how the furloughs will be done and tips on how workers can file for unemployment insurance. Kansas State University sent a similar email to its staff Tuesday.

Kansas hospitals were surprised by a plan that surfaced Sunday night to solve the state budget crisis by ending a sales tax exemption for some nonprofit organizations.

The Senate voted down the plan 30-9 after several hours of debate. But with the state facing a budget gap of nearly $800 million and the Legislature looking for $400 million in new taxes, there’s a chance lawmakers could take another look at it.

Chad Austin, vice president of government relations for the Kansas Hospital Association, said 118 of the state’s 127 hospitals are nonprofits.

This story was updated at 5:30 p.m.

Editor’s note: A fractured Kansas Legislature is working overtime to produce a balanced state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. This story attempts to explain the reasons lawmakers are on the brink of a constitutional crisis. KHI News Service, a partner of KCUR-based Heartland Health Monitor, will continue to monitor events and update them as necessary. 

A couple of items relevant to public health and the health insurance industry are in the mix as lawmakers seek a tax plan that will allow them to end the 2015 session.

Kansas legislators need to locate between $400 million and $500 million in new revenue to fund the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. As the House and Senate move toward the 90th day of the legislative session, most debate has focused on how much of that new revenue should come from rolling back income tax cuts passed in 2012  and how much should come from new sales taxes.

New revenue numbers in Kansas have dipped again, leaving lawmakers with a budget shortfall in the hundreds of millions of dollars. On this edition of Up To Date, we talk about what led to the larger than expected deficit, and what Kansas lawmakers can do to close it. 

Guests:

  • Bryan Lowry is with the Topeka bureau of The Wichita Eagle.
  • Duane Goossen served as the Kansas Budget Director from 1998 to 2010.

More pessimistic state revenue estimates released this week could breathe new life into tobacco and alcohol tax increases that lawmakers thus far had ignored.

The state’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Group said Monday that Kansas should expect to collect about $5.71 billion in taxes in the fiscal year that begins July 1. That’s almost $100 million less than the group of economic experts estimated in November, making a difficult budget puzzle even more vexing for legislators.

The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network quickly seized on the new projections as evidence legislators should increase the tobacco tax.

“Making tobacco significantly more expensive is a powerful economic tool that will save lives and cut health care costs while also addressing Kansas’ budget shortfall,” said Reagan Cussimanio, the group’s government relations director in Kansas.

Jim McLean / Heartland Health Monitor

 

About 100 people rallied Wednesday within earshot of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s office to demand the repeal of income tax cuts they say are crippling the state.

The Rev Up Kansas coalition staged the event to call attention to the state’s ongoing budget problems, which organizers said are the result of tax cuts that Brownback championed in the mistaken belief that they would jump-start the Kansas economy.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says he isn’t concerned by budget bills in the House and Senate that aren’t balanced. The chambers are considering bills that would require a tax increase to keep the state out of the red. That comes after lawmakers cut taxes in recent years.

Brownback fielded some questions about the budget at an event in Topeka Monday. Brownback does not seem phased by the budget bills. He says lawmakers will fill the deficit, like the Kansas Constitution requires.

Oh, to be fifteen years old. Not a care in the world, except that feature length documentary you've been working on, satirizing the governor and his fiscal policy. That's how most high school sophomores spend their free time, right? 

Guest:

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

 

As Kansas legislators voted this week on a budget bill to keep the state solvent through the current month, Rep. Larry Hibbard laid down a gauntlet.

Hibbard, a rancher, Republican and self-described “common sense conservative” from rural southeast Kansas, said the price of his “yes” vote to keep state government running was an open debate about the income tax cuts spearheaded by fellow Republican Gov. Sam Brownback in 2012 — tax cuts he blames for the budget shortfall.

The Kansas House has passed a bill that will eliminate most of a $300 million budget shortfall in the current fiscal year.

The bill takes money from the state highway fund, children’s program funding and other places to help fill the gap. The bill passed the House on an 88-34 vote, mostly along party lines.

Several Republicans said they had concerns but voted yes so the state could pay its bills on time. Rep. Don Hineman was a yes vote, but called for reconsidering tax cuts passed in recent years.

Former Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, talks honestly with Steve Kraske about the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, and offers her opinion on Governor Brownback's vision for Kansas.

Kansas lawmakers are just beginning the job of reviewing and modifying Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax and budget plan.

The governor’s proposal slows scheduled income tax cuts and reduces spending to help fill a budget shortfall. Republican state Sen. Ty Masterson chairs that chamber’s budget committee. He says after revenue collections came up short of predictions, it’s prudent to adjust the tax cuts.

“We had the largest revenue estimation miss in the history of the state, and so now you just have to reevaluate. The purpose is still the right purpose,” says Masterson.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback stuck by his aggressive tax policy during his State of the State address Thursday, outlining an ambitious list of legislative priorities for 2015.

But even members of the governor's own party say it's too early to tell what Brownback can accomplish during the session.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback addressed a wide array of issues in his ambitious State of the State address. On this edition of Up To Date, three Kansas lawmakers give their reactions to the governor's speech. 

Guests:

  • Rep. Tom Burroughs (D), House Minority Leader, District 33.
  • Rep. Stephanie Clayton (R), District 19.
  • Rep. John Rubin (R), District 18.

Michael Cannon / Flickr -- Creative Commons

 

A Kansas City-based nonprofit organization says a recent poll shows widespread support for exempting some foods from the Kansas sales tax.

Ashley Jones-Wisner, state policy manager for KC Healthy Kids, says the survey conducted for the Kansas Health Foundation showed that 86.6 percent of Kansans supported exempting fruits and vegetables from the state sales tax.

The Wichita-based foundation helps to fund KC Healthy Kids, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing obesity among children.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

There are some high-profile issues that Kansas lawmakers will address in the upcoming legislative session, including filling a budget hole. But there are always other issues that rise to the surface and attract attention when lawmakers are in Topeka.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says he’ll be pushing anti-poverty legislation in the coming session, and he also expects work on long-term water policy.

KC Healthy Kids

 

Led by KC Healthy Kids, a nonprofit organization supported in part by the Kansas Health Foundation, a coalition is being formed to guide a legislative effort to exempt food from the state sales tax.

“Cutting the sales tax on food will make it more affordable for Kansans to eat healthier,” says Ashley Jones-Wisner, state policy manager for KC Healthy Kids.

Two high-ranking Republicans have criticized Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to use state pension dollars to help fill a budget hole.

Senate Vice President Jeff King and state Treasurer Ron Estes have concerns about the move. They say the proposal hurts the public pension plan, known as KPERS, not long after an attempt to fix it.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration has released a plan to fix a budget deficit in the current fiscal year. Cuts to highway funding and the state’s public retirement system will be key to balancing the Kansas budget.

Brownback’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, says the administration started by trying to find ways to reduce spending while minimizing the effect the cost-cutting would have on services.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback announced Tuesday he will use his power of allotments to make fee transfers and spending cuts to close a $280 million budget gap in the current fiscal year.

Brownback said in a prepared statement that the allotments come from recommendations made by budget director Shawn Sullivan.

Gov. Sam Brownback is staying tight-lipped about his plans to fix a hole in the state budget. But he says he's looking at all the options. 

Following a meeting at the Statehouse, Brownback gave few details to the media about what he'll propose. He says all options are on the table, including tax increases or slowing future scheduled decreases.

Brownback also won't say whether he'll make budget cuts, known as allotments before lawmakers return to the Statehouse in January. Right now, he says he's conferring with state agencies and studying the numbers.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Maybe it's a decision about which side of the state line to live on. Maybe it's public school versus private, or district versus charter. For some, there may not seem to be a choice in the matter at all. A range of issues factor into where Kansas City families send their kids to school; meanwhile, difficulty discerning myth from reality looms large. Our callers and guests help break it down.

Guests:

Andy Marso / KHI News Service

This week some very dire budget predictions came out of Topeka: In the next two years Kansas may come up $1 billion short of expenses.

But that’s in the future. Right now the state has to find $279 million.

When budget experts gathered Monday, school districts all across Kansas were watching closely.

They knew if the projected budget shortfall for the rest of this fiscal year was bad, they faced potential cuts in state funding.

Not next year but this year — money already budgeted would be lost.

State revenue forecasters said Monday that the state can expect hundreds of millions of budget dollars less than previously thought to fund schools, social programs and highway projects.

www.tradingacademy.com/ / OTA Photos, Flickr

The Kansas budget has been in the national spotlight ever since Governor Sam Brownback signed dramatic tax cuts into law in 2012. Over the past several months, tax revenue has been coming in at lower levels than the state projected. Not surprisingly, the two sides of the political spectrum view the resulting conundrum differently. 

Guests:

  • John Hanna, reporter, The Associated Press
  • David Trabert, Kansas Policy Institute
  • Duane Goossen, former Kansas budget director

KU Med To Lose 31 Student Slots In Kansas City

Jun 18, 2013

The University of Kansas is wrestling with how to cut $13.5 million from its budget over the next two years, but the funding reduction will not prompt the closing of the KU School of Medicine's campus in Salina

The KU Medical Center, which operates the school, will have to absorb more than $8 million in cuts. KU spokesman Jack Martin says closing the Salina campus, and scaling back operations in Wichita are no longer on the table.

The chair of the Kansas House Tax Committee is responding to claims from Democrats about the tax plan passed by the Legislature last weekend. The Republican-dominated Legislature passed a bill that will cut income tax rates, but will also keep the sales tax elevated and reduce income tax deductions.

The Chair of the state Democratic Party, former revenue secretary Joan Wagnon, says legislators broke their promise to let a temporary sales tax expire, and put a bigger burden on working Kansans, amounting to a more than $750 million tax increase.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Lawmakers wrapped up the 2013 session in the early hours of Sunday morning, narrowly passing a budget that reduces spending through major cuts, particularly to higher education.

The biggest responsibility lawmakers have every year is to pass a state budget. It was questionable whether this proposal could pass the House. The chamber’s leadership was putting pressure on Republicans to pass the budget, saying if they didn’t pass one over the weekend the state could miss payments, like a payment for state worker health insurance.

Pages