Governor Sam Brownback

After decades of alarming headlines, Kansas may be on the verge of preserving an ancient groundwater resource that helped make it an agricultural powerhouse.

Since the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s, researchers have warned that farmers were pumping water from the part of the massive Ogallala aquifer that underlies Kansas faster than nature could replace it.

But a new emphasis on conservation spearheaded by Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is starting to reverse that longstanding trend.

Kansas Geological Survey

There is hope for the Ogallala Aquifer.

That, according to the Garden City Telegram, is what Gov. Sam Brownback and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer said when they visited Garden City Tuesday.

Gov. Sam Brownback visited western Kansas on Tuesday to tout that farming with less water from the Ogallala Aquifer is viable.

Farmers in a 99-square-mile area of Sheridan County have managed to cut their irrigation by more than 20 percent over the last four years, and they're still just as profitable as their neighbors who haven’t cut back like that. Jim Butler of the Kansas Geological Survey says it could extend the life of the Ogallala.

The head of an organization that represents Kansas state employees is criticizing Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration for using a state agency to deliver a political attack on the Legislature.

Robert Choromanski, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said it was inappropriate for the administration to send an email to employees of the Kansas Department for Children and Families that criticizes lawmakers for raising taxes.

Kansas Legislature

House Majority Leader Don Hineman of Dighton defends the Kansas Legislature’s move to reinstate tax cuts in a July 3 Topeka Capital-Journal editorial.

Hineman writes that overturning Gov. Sam Brownback’s “overly aggressive 2012 tax cut” was a return to common sense tax policy, resulting from lawmakers fulfilling promises they made to their constituents during 2016 campaigns.

Many Kansas workers will soon see a change in their paychecks because of an income tax increase that takes effect Saturday.

Lawmakers approved a $1.2 billion income tax increase to close a projected $900 million budget gap for the next two fiscal years. 

The new law raises income tax rates and reinstates income taxes on thousands of business owners.

“We’re encouraging everybody to just think about it,” said Kansas Revenue Secretary Sam Williams.

Republican Senate President Susan Wagle says she’s considering a run for either Kansas governor or for the 4th District congressional seat in the Wichita area.

Kansas lawmakers met briefly Monday for the ceremonial end of the legislative session. They considered overriding some vetoes issued by Gov. Sam Brownback but ultimately took no action.

Republican Senate President Susan Wagle ended that chamber’s meeting quickly because she said some lawmakers were gone and overrides simply weren’t going to be possible.

Gov. Sam Brownback denounced the level of spending in the Kansas budget, but he still chose to sign the bill into law over the weekend.

Gov. Sam Brownback on Friday signed a bill creating a task force to examine the Kansas foster care system.

The number of children in the Kansas foster care system has set records in recent years, passing 7,100 in April. The death of an abused boy in Kansas City, Kansas, also raised concerns about whether the system was protecting children. 

Gov. Sam Brownback has until Sunday to take action on the Kansas budget approved by lawmakers. His decisions could prompt action on the ceremonial last day of the legislative session.

It’s likely Brownback will sign the budget, but he can block specific items with his line item veto power. Lawmakers also have the power to override those decisions with a two-thirds vote.

Democratic Sen. Anthony Hensley says some line item vetoes could draw override attempts. Those would come on the ceremonial last day of the session, which is Monday.

JIM MCLEAN / KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

Jim Barnett is throwing his stethoscope into the ring.

Again.

The 63-year-old doctor and former state senator is running for the Republican nomination for governor.

Again.

Barnett, who represented an Emporia-centered district in the Kansas Senate for a decade, won the 2006 GOP primary over a relatively weak field but lost in a landslide to incumbent Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in the general election.

Four years later he came up short in a race against Tim Huelskamp for the Republican nomination in the 1st Congressional District.

In voting for a $1.2 billion tax increase to bolster the budget for the next two years, the Kansas Legislature avoided a projected $900 budget hole and began restoring past cuts to the mental health system.

Gov. Sam Brownback on Thursday signed into law the state’s new school funding formula, which increases aid to schools by $284 million within two years.

In signing Senate Bill 19 into law, Brownback said it directs “more dollars into the classroom by limiting bond and interest aid, encouraging responsible financial stewardship at the local level.” 

NPS.GOV

The Kansas Legislature passed a budget bill Saturday, which marked the 113th day of the Legislative session.

As The Topeka Capital-Journal reports, the two chambers took up the budget bill, which was hacked out during hours of negotiations that ended Friday between the two legislative bodies, with sometimes considerable disagreement about allocations.

Gov. Sam Brownback defended his signature tax cuts this week after lawmakers overrode his veto of a bill repealing them, but he may have exaggerated their impact.

Wikimedia Commons

National press reports of significance of override of Brownback agenda

Several national news outlets, following the Kansas Legislature’s override of Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of a $1.2 billion tax increase Tuesday night, reported about the move’s significance.

School districts across Kansas are breathing a bit easier after the Legislature passed a school funding plan and a tax law that provides the money for it.

Ideally, districts would want to have most of their budgets done by now so school boards could approve them and publish in August.

But not this year, as lawmakers have struggled to agree on a plan to adequately fund schools in the face of a June 30 deadline from the state Supreme Court. 

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill Wednesday morning requiring abortion providers to give patients information listing their credentials, any disciplinary actions meted out against them and whether they have malpractice insurance.

The bill also requires the information to be provided at least 24 hours before a procedure and printed on white paper in black 12-point, Times New Roman font.

Kansas lawmakers have voted to roll back a series of major tax cuts that became an example for conservative lawmakers around the country but didn't deliver the growth and prosperity promised by Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican.

A coalition of conservative Republicans, some of whom voted for sweeping tax cuts in 2012 or defended them in the years since, sided with moderates and Democrats to override Brownback's veto of a $1.2 billion tax increase.

Kansas Public Radio

The filing deadline isn’t until next June. But candidates already are lining up for what could be the toughest job in Kansas: succeeding Gov. Sam Brownback.

Four hopefuls are at least tentatively in the race and several more are thinking about getting in, including some Republican heavyweights.

Who?

Well, Kansas Secretary of State and political lightning rod Kris Kobach for one. Interviewed at the Kansas Republican Party’s state convention earlier this year, he said, “I am taking a very serious look at the governor’s race.”

A former Kansas legislator who also served as the state agriculture secretary and as a regional official in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is running for governor.

Joshua Svaty, 37, launched his bid for the Democratic nomination Tuesday at the Ellsworth Co-op, not far from the farm where he grew up.

Dressed casually in jeans and an open-collared shirt, Svaty told a small crowd of supporters that he was running to “undo the damage” done to education, health care and the state’s transportation system by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s economic policies. 

Topeka Capital-Journal

The Kansas Legislature continues to struggle with ways to increase tax revenue and fill the state’s staggering budget gap of almost a billion dollars.

As The Topeka Capital-Journal reports, a tax committee appointed by the Senate has proposed a bill to raise the upper rate for income tax while reducing the rate for the lower bracket. The bill would also lower the state’s 6.5 percent sales tax on groceries to 6 percent in 2020.

The Kansas Legislature faces a crucial deadline as it starts its wrap-up session this week: It must have a school funding formula in place by June 30 that passes muster with the state Supreme Court or the justices will shut down public schools.

Gov. Sam Brownback kicked off the Kansas legislative session by drawing lines in the sand on taxes, spending and Medicaid expansion, and he has defended those positions with his veto pen.

The question when lawmakers return Monday to Topeka is whether those vetoes will hold up.

Wikimedia Commons

Kansas’ projected budget shortfall shrank from about $1 billion to about $900 million, after a key biannual revenue analysis predicted better than anticipated tax receipts last week.

As The Topeka Capital-Journal reports, members of the state’s consensus revenue group offered cautiously optimistic projections that followed multiple downward revisions in recent years.

Creative Commons

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.”

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