Governor Sam Brownback

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When it comes to support for Governor Sam Brownback’s ideas about how taxation should work in Kansas, it appears the tides have turned.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, last week Brownback proposed legislation that would have asked every person in the Sunflower State, regardless of income level, to pay a flat tax of 4.6 percent. But when the measure appeared on the floor of the State Senate, it was resoundingly rejected.

After sitting on the sidelines since his veto of a tax bill in February, Gov. Sam Brownback this week re-engaged with lawmakers working on a solution to the state’s budget crisis.

He needn’t have bothered.

The Senate on Thursday rejected the “flat” tax bill that he was lobbying for by a decisive 37-3 vote.

“This is bad tax policy,” said Sen. Tom Holland of Baldwin City, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 3:50 p.m. April 5.

Rather than propose a new tax plan, Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday opted to endorse a flat tax proposal that a Senate committee advanced this week.

“My goal has always been to make Kansas the best state in America to raise a family and grow a business,” Brownback said in a statement. “A flat tax accomplishes this goal by making taxes fair for everyone and encouraging economic growth.”

Kansas City Star

The Kansas Legislature does not have sufficient votes to override Governor Sam Brownback’s veto of the state’s Medicaid expansion, reports The Kansas City Star.

Last week the Governor sent health-care advocates into a rage by vetoing a law that would have provided health care to roughly 150,000 low-income Kansans. The law would have opened the door to millions of dollars’ worth of Federal matching funds.

A motion to override Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of a bill that would expand Medicaid eligibility failed Monday in the Kansas House, 81-44. At least 84 votes were needed to override the veto and move the bill to the Senate.

Supporters of expanding Medicaid eligibility in Kansas are preparing to mount an intense lobbying campaign over the weekend to get the votes they need to override Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of an expansion bill.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:30 p.m. March 30.

Gov. Sam Brownback on Thursday morning vetoed a bill to expand Medicaid eligibility in Kansas, spurring a short veto override effort in the Kansas House that likely will continue next week.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 11:20 a.m. Tuesday, March 28.

Buoyed by the failure of Republicans in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Kansas Senate on Tuesday gave final approval to a Medicaid expansion bill in a 25-14 bipartisan vote.

The Senate vote sends the bill to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, whose spokeswoman reaffirmed his opposition to expansion in tweets during nearly three hours of Senate debate Monday but did not say whether he would veto it.

www.k-state.edu

Efforts to fund Kansas’ long-term water plan are at a standstill, at least for now, as legislators face massive revenue shortfalls, as well as a Supreme Court order to increase school funding.

As The Lawrence Journal-World reports, a new committee tasked with dealing with water and environmental policy has made little progress and has come to a virtual standstill, at least for now.

Reports that Gov. Sam Brownback may soon be leaving the state to take a United Nations post have lawmakers and others at the Statehouse talking about how things might change with Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer in charge.

At a time when Kansas is facing a serious budget deficit and a court order saying school funding is inadequate, Gov. Sam Brownback may be leaving the state for a job in Italy. A former high-ranking government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, tells Kansas Public Radio that Brownback will be named the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations agencies for food and agriculture in Rome.

It is not hyperbole to say the challenges that members of the 2017 Kansas Legislature face are among the most daunting in state history.

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Kansas was recently featured in a New York Times piece criticizing the state for its budget shortfall resulting from the biggest tax cuts in Kansas history.

Kansas tax receipts came in about $37 million above estimates in February, chipping away at the state’s budget deficit.

The Kansas Budget Office on Wednesday reported about $331.5 million in tax receipts for the month, which was about 13 percent higher than projected revenue. Tax revenues were up about 9 percent compared to February 2016.

As expected, the Kansas Supreme Court on Thursday morning ruled that the state’s school funding formula is inadequate under the Kansas Constitution.

In a unanimous 83-page decision, the court gave the Legislature until June 30 to address the state’s public education financing system.

The decision comes after the court ruled earlier that the school funding formula had failed to meet the equity prong of the Kansas Constitution.

There’s been an awful lot of discussion on what the new school funding formula will look like and whether the Kansas Legislature will still make cuts to public schools mid-year.

Nothing has been decided which has educators in the state both a little optimistic and a little scared.

On a recent morning Allison Theno was combining math and penguins to teach her 18  kindergartners at Basehor Elementary to subtract.

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Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of tax legislation last week represents a “credit negative” to ratings agency Moody

KCUR

  The Kansas House approved a tax bill Wednesday that would raise Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature tax cuts.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the proposed bill would include an end to a tax cut for roughly 330,000 business owners and generate more than $1 billion over the next two years, according to state estimates.

But Brownback said he won’t sign the bill if it makes it to his desk.

Citing weak economic trends and structural budget pressures, S&P Global Ratings revised the outlook on Kansas’ AA-minus credit rating from stable to negative Wednesday.

As Reuters reports, the credit rating agency faulted the state for its continuous use of one-time revenue measures to shore up operational spending. For the upcoming biennial budget, nonrecurring measures include a plan to sell bonds backed by Kansas' share of a nationwide settlement with U.S. tobacco companies, liquidation of a capital reserve, and pension underfunding, S&P said.

Feds reject Kansas' request to extend KanCare

Jan 23, 2017
KanCare.ks.gov

Federal officials have rejected Kansas’ request to extend KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program, saying it has failed to meet federal standards and risked the health and safety of enrollees.

As reported by The Wichita Eagle, federal investigators reviewed the state’s Medicaid plan in October and found that Kansas is “substantively out of compliance with Federal statutes and regulations, as well as its Medicaid State Plan,” according to a letter sent to the state Jan. 13 from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

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Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback wants to increase taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, among other things, to fill the state’s $378 million budget shortfall.

As The Kansas City Star reports, Shawn Sullivan, Brownback’s budget director, presented the governor’s tax and budget proposals to lawmakers yesterday.

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In his State of the State address last night, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback talked about the state budget, Medicaid, the need for additional medical and dental care, and school funding, among other things.

Brownback said Budget Director shawn Sullivan would be presenting a "structurally balanced budget" today that Brownback described as balanced, in that it reconciles spending with available revenue and supports the core functions of state government.

Brownback also called for lawmakers to address the imbalance between state revenues and expenditures.

Kansas ranked fifth for most outbound movers in 2016

Jan 5, 2017
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Kansas moved up a spot from last year in a ranking of the states most moved out of in 2016.

KCUR

 Gov. Sam Brownback cut Medicaid reimbursements by 4 percent earlier this year, as part of budget cuts aimed at covering the revenue shortfall in Kansas, and legislators see restoration of that cut as a top priority going into the next session.

The Wichita Eagle

Kansas has traditionally had a lower unemployment rate than the nation at large. But that looks to be changing next year, if analyst predictions hold true.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the latest numbers have Kansas at 4.4 percent unemployment, slightly lower than the national average. But the U.S unemployment rate just dropped once again, to 4.6 percent. Meanwhile, experts expect the Kansas unemployment rate to rise to about 4.7 percent in 2018 based on current data.

Brian Lowry / The Wichita Eagle

Rural schools in the Sunflower State received some good news this week. Over the next two years, every Kansas public school could be equipped with high-speed internet, reports The Wichita Eagle.

This week Governor Sam Brownback announced that about 300 schools in Kansas, most of them in rural areas, will be equipped with fiber-optic connections to provide high-speed Internet access to students.

Flyhighplato

In western Kansas, meanwhile, a farmer and local officials were recently honored for their efforts to preserve water.

A Finney County farmer and the City of Garden City were recognized earlier this month at the Governor’s Water Conference in Manhattan for taking measures to conserve, reuse or adopt practices aimed at preserving the state’s future water resources.

The Wichita Eagle

Donald Trump’s proposed tax plan may look familiar to folks in Kansas, reports The Wichita Eagle.

That’s because the president-elect’s plan is very similar to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s 2012 legislation, which Brownback referred to as his “real-live experiment.”

According to analysts, both plans include a rate cut for individual income tax. Both plans also require cuts to business income.

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadephia

Of late, the Kansas economy has been the worst in the country, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Stephen Koranda / KMUW

The Topeka Capital-Journal has obtained budgetary documents which the Brownback administration sought to suppress.

The documents show the implications of the Sunflower State’s potential 5-percent budget cut. If the cuts go through, they could include $17 million in spending reductions for prisons and a loss of nearly $7 million for children and family programs.

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