Sam Brownback

Governor Sam Brownback laid out his legislative goals during the 2016 State of the State Address Tuesday night. He took the president to task and touched on high-profile state issues like education spending. 

Brownback laid the groundwork in his speech by referencing what he and lawmakers had done in Kansas in recent years. He touted tax policy, the unemployment rate and job growth.

“Kansans are finding good jobs right here at home. Working together, we’ve created an economic environment where new filings for new businesses have increased by 15 percent,” said Brownback.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Did Kansas lawmakers know about the state's controversial decision to lift the borrowing limit for the Department of Transportation? 

This PowerPoint slide seems to suggest they did, but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle along with transportation insiders whom KCUR has talked to all say they were surprised to see KDOT borrowing at record levels in December. 

neetalparekh / Flickr--CC

Late this week, Kansans got two interesting pieces of economic data within 24 hours of each other. Let's start with the second: the state's latest jobs report for November.

Gov. Sam Brownback certainly liked what it had to say, based on a Tweet he sent out Friday morning. 

A Look At How Refugees Are Resettled In Kansas City

Nov 30, 2015
Julie Denesha / KCUR

After the attacks in Paris, many governors across the nation took a stance on opening their borders to refugees, particularly refugees from Syria. In the Kansas City area, Governors Sam Brownback and Jay Nixon weighed in on both sides of the issue.

 

“It is imperative that we take action where the White House has not. KS agencies will not assist in relocating Syrian refugees,” Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback wrote on Twitter .

 

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Kansas tax revenues are plummeting and that may bode poorly for the future of the state's highway system.

Tax revenue has come in $57 million below estimates since the fiscal year began in July, leading the Brownback Administration to sweep money from different places to balance the budget. The biggest hit was taken by the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT).

You can talk about expansion projects, preservation projects and economic development around transportation, but for many, what’s happening to KDOT funding right now boils down to one thing.

It is still unknown what the impact of the landmark Gannon school finance case will be, since the Kansas Supreme Court won't ultimately decide on it until sometime next year. 

What is clearer now, though, is the state's stance on what role the Court should play in determining funding for Kansas public education. In short, the state thinks the Court has no role. Briefs filed in Gannon Monday by the state essentially tell the Court to stay out of its legislative business. 

Andy Marso/KHI News

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday convened a new Governor’s Social Services Policy Council for the first time Wednesday in the luxury suites area at Sporting Park, the Kansas City, Kansas, home of the Sporting Kansas City soccer team.

At the end of the hourlong meeting, the council decided to focus on obtaining data about criminal recidivism and the breakdown of the family structure.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

If President Obama closes the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba, the suspected terrorists who are housed there might be transferred to the military prison at Fort Leavenworth. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has spoken out against that idea. Thursday, he brought that message to Leavenworth and heard from the people who would be most directly affected: local residents.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s decision to divert federal funding away from a health insurance program is drawing sharp criticism from children’s advocates.

Shannon Cotsoradis, president of Kansas Action for Children, says the governor is shortchanging Kansas families who depend on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget director believes Kansas officials needs to study how they estimate future state tax collections. The comments were made just before new July revenue numbers came in below the mark.

Over the last year, Kansas tax collections have come up short of the estimates 10 times, and beat the estimates twice. Some of the misses were small, but four times over the last year the state’s monthly tax collections were at least $20 million below expectations.

Brownback’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, helps create the estimates.

Kansas legislators passed a law this year that says that if a court strikes down a 2014 law that removed some powers from the state Supreme Court, the judiciary will lose funding. On this edition of Up To Date, we examine the ensuing battle being waged between the Kansas Judiciary and the executive and legislative branches. 

Guests: 

file photo

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is defending recent moves to raise sales and cigarette taxes in order to balance a state budget hit hard by the governor’s income tax cuts. Brownback told KCUR's Steve Kraske that critics—including Democrats in the statehouse—do not see the big picture.

Kraske: Democrats are out today saying that the fact that you won't acknowledge this is a tax increase, what happened in the last session, is a sign that you’re living in a dream world. What do you say to that?

Brownback: Well, I wish they’d put forward proposals they supported. The Democrats didn’t put forward a single proposal in this legislative session that could be debated, the only thing they wanted to see happen was [that] everything fail, just come crashing down. So if they’re not willing to put forward proposals, I really don’t think they have much credibility to criticize.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s office said Wednesday it had received word from the U.S. Attorney’s Office that no charges will be filed after an investigation into loans made to the governor’s re-election campaign.

The governor released a joint statement along with Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, a plastic surgeon who was also at the center of the probe.

“We have been advised by legal counsel that the United States Attorney’s office has concluded an investigation regarding campaign finance matters, and no charges are to be filed,” the statement read. 

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback maintains that the revenue enhancement package just adopted in Topeka, which has been described as the largest tax increase in Kansas history, should not be considered a tax increase. On this edition of Up To Date, Steve Kraske has a one-on-one with the governor about the 2015 legislative session's contentious tax debate. 

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Most of the Kansas Congressional delegation, state and local officials as well as the Secretaries of both Agriculture and Homeland Security smiled, shook hands, even hugged as they came together for the latest in a series of ceremonial groundbreakings for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF.

The Manhattan, Kansas facility has been in the works for 16 years, said Sen. Pat Roberts, the grandfather of the project, who first pushed for greater food and agriculture safety with Kansas State University officials in 1999.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

It's a common problem for mail order pharmacies such as Overland Park-based OptumRX – patients will return prescription drugs, unopened.

"Let's say when their physician changed their prescription, they forgot to to notify us that the original cycle of medications they were on needed to change," says Tim Wicks, CEO of OptumRX.

Usually, those returned prescriptions end up in the trash.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Tuesday signed a law that bans dilation and evacuation (D&E), a common second-trimester abortion procedure.

The law, titled the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, redefines "dilation and evacuation" as "dismemberment." Language in the law says the fetus is pulled apart limb by limb and allowed to bleed to death before being removed from the pregnant woman's body. 

A Kansas Senate committee will hold a hearing Wednesday to study the governor’s choice to fill a vacancy on the Kansas Court of Appeals. Gov. Sam Brownback has picked Topeka attorney Kathryn Gardner to fill the open seat.

During the hearing, senators will hear from any supporters and opponents of Gardner’s nomination. Then, senators will have a chance to pepper Gardner with questions about her experience and qualifications.

When Brownback announced that Gardner would be his pick, he said she meets the standards Kansans set for judges.

Elle Boatman

Elle Boatman was scrolling through her Facebook news feed Tuesday afternoon during a break from her job at Wichita State.

There she learned that Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback had rescinded an earlier executive order by former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius that offered protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered state workers. Boatman is a transwoman and said she was floored by the news.

“I was really just devastated,” Boatman recalled on Wednesday.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed an executive order rescinding protected class status for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender state workers.  We talk to two local journalists about public reactions to the governor's move and what it means for the LGBT community in Kansas.

Guests:

  • Peggy Lowe is a reporter for Harvest Public Media based at KCUR.
  • Barb Shelly is a columnist for the Kansas City Star.

Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has overturned an executive order that protected many state employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The order he rescinded was put into place by former Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. Her order had barred executive branch state agencies from discriminating in hiring and employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Doug Bonney, with the ACLU of Kansas, says the move comes as a surprise.

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.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The watch word for school funding in Kansas is now block grants. But how that will work remains a mystery to educators.

Gov. Sam Brownback wants to scrap the current per pupil funding formula which, he says, is complicated and inefficient.

While lawmakers try to write a new formula, Brownback proposes to give school districts lump sum payments over the next two fiscal years equal to about what they receive now.

Across the state, that’s $3 billion in aid to local school districts.

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.

Andy Marso / KHI News Service

In his first State of the State address since being re-elected, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said Thursday night that his efforts to fight poverty and reform Medicaid have been a success and outlined a controversial second-term agenda.

Ashley Booker, KHI News Service

Gov. Sam Brownback opened the 2015 Kansas legislative session Monday with an inaugural speech that emphasized strengthening families as a solution to the state’s financial woes.

Addressing newly elected legislators and statewide office holders in the House chamber, the governor said a “lack of healthy families” plays a major role in poverty, both in Kansas and nationwide.

“While many of our problems are economic and we will be second to none in addressing them, the reality is the solutions are principally cultural and moral,” Brownback said.

The Associated Press reports that a federal grand jury is investigating loans to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s re-election campaign.  

The loans in question were most likely from Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer. Colyer loaned the Brownback  campaign half a million dollars three separate times, always just before a campaign finance report was due.  On at least two occasions the campaign paid the money back days later.  

Gov. Sam Brownback's chief of staff is resigning to accept a position with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the administration announced Monday. Landon Fulmer will step down Jan. 5.

Jon Hummell, Brownback's policy director, will replace Fulmer. He will continue to also serve as policy director until the administration names a successor.

Fulmer has been chief of staff since April 2012. 

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.

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