Governor Sam Brownback

Jim McClean / KHI news service

From the Kansas Health Institute:

The 2016 election could be a tough one for some Kansas lawmakers hoping to return to the Statehouse.

Polls, editorials and reader comments on news websites indicate that voters are paying attention to what’s happening in Topeka, and many don’t like what they’re seeing.

Kansas City Star

Last week was a rough week for Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. First, the governor was forced to slash another $97 million from the budget. Those cuts came on top of an additional $185 million diverted from highway funds. Brownback also had to delay a $100 million payment into Kanas public employees’ pension plans.

Kansas Highway Patrol / Topeka Capital-Journal

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a bill into law that aims to fill vacancies in the state’s Highway Patrol service, reports The Kansas City Star. As a result, Kansas motorists should expect to pay higher vehicle registration fees beginning in July. The extra fees will go toward providing funds for the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Reuters

Planned Parenthood has filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Kansas over a plan to strip it of government healthcare funding, reports Newsweek. According to court documents released this week, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment plans to cut Planned Parenthood off from state Medicaid funds beginning next Tuesday. The agency is acting at the bequest of Governor Sam Brownback, who says no Kansas taxpayer money should go to Planned Parenthood.

Topeka Capital-Journal

Kansas brought in more tax revenue than expected last month, reports The Topeka Capital-Journal. The state exceeded projections by $2.6 million. However, the numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, as the state has scaled back projections twice during the current fiscal year.

Thad Allton / Topeka Capital-Journal

Walk into the Kansas state capitol’s rotunda in Topeka, and you’ll be confronted by four colossal statues of famous Kansans. In this hallowed room, Amelia Earhart, Dwight Eisenhower, Arthur Capper and William Allen White gaze down in silence at visitors to the capitol. The sculptor for these 2,000-pound statues is still going strong, reports The Topeka Capital-Journal.

politico.com

This week Kansas Governor Sam Brownback announced he’s pulling out of the federal government’s refugee resettlement program. The move comes after Brownback expressed repeated concern about the program for months. The governor said he had failed to get satisfactory answers, so the state is done, reports The Washington Post. The resettlement program has placed more than 2,000 global refugees in Kansas over the past four years.

The Wichita Eagle

If you live in Kansas, you might have heard the phrase “tobacco securitization” lately. It’s an idea that could help ease the burden from the state’s $290 million budget hole, reports The Wichita Eagle.

Governor Sam Brownback loves the idea. But what is it?

AP photo

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has signed a school finance bill in response to an order from the Kansas Supreme Court, reports the Garden City Telegram. With its order, the court intends to develop a more equitable education funding system.

Orlin Wagner / AP photo

In an attempt to understand how well Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s grand experiment of slashing taxes to stimulate economic growth has affected unemployment, The Pittsburgh Gazette recently compared the state’s stats with those of Nebraska.

Andy Marso / KHI news service

From the Kansas Health Institute:

More than half of Kansans who found jobs after losing assistance remain in poverty.

Gov. Sam Brownback made his case Thursday for why Kansas food stamp reforms should be a national welfare-to-work model, even though the study he used to support his claim showed almost 80 percent of Kansans affected remained in poverty.

Chris Neal / AP photo

A new Kansas bill has teachers up in arms, reports The Wichita Eagle. Educators say the potential law is an attack on public schools.

Kansas City Star

Last week a bill was proposed in the Kansas House of Representatives that would have given the governor more control over Supreme Court appointments. But the measure died Thursday, reports The Kansas City Star. The bill would have amended the Kansas constitution and given the governor full authority to select justices, subject to Senate confirmation.

nps.gov

The Kansas House budget committee has decided to make nice with the state’s judicial branch, reports The Hutchinson News. The committee has introduced a bill to eliminate a budget provision that was ruled unconstitutional by the state’s Supreme Court. Controversy erupted in 2014 when the Kansas Legislature adopted a bill to strip the Supreme Court of its authority to select district court judges.

www.kansas.com

The Kansas Highway Patrol has 82 fewer troopers than it did 10 years ago. And Southwest Kansas is suffering the most from a lack of troopers, reports The Wichita Eagle. 20 counties in Western Kansas have no troopers assigned to them. And 16 of those counties are in the southwest part of the state. Kansas is now seeking an increase in vehicle title fees to reverse that trend.

Wikimedia Commons

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and Kansas lawmakers say they won't consider increasing funding to public schools until they’re sure the money already spent on education is finding its way into the classroom. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that GOP lawmakers don't yet have a clear definition of what makes up classroom spending. Brownback said: “Right now, you've got this high percentage that's not getting to the classroom.”

Amy Bickel / Hutchinson News

From Kansas Agland:

MANHATTAN – Stakeholders gathered to hear about Kansas’ efforts to preserve water – but Gov. Sam Brownback admitted he was a little distracted with world issues.

Not that water wasn’t discussed at Brownback’s fourth annual Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas. Nor did Brownback minimize the topic.

Andy Marso / Kaiser Health Institute

From the Kansas Health Institute:

A task force that will make recommendations for how to fund the state’s water projects was unveiled Wednesday.

The Blue Ribbon Task Force is part of the 50-year plan to secure the state’s water supply that Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration rolled out last year.

Kansas Faces Continuing Budget Crisis

Nov 23, 2015
Topeka Capital-Journal

Kansas’s budget crisis continues to dog Governor Sam Brownback, reports the Topeka Capital-Journal. And the problem can be traced to one issue: After drastically cutting taxes, the state government failed to adequately cut spending as well. In fact, the state of Kansas set a record for general fund spending last year. The Capital-Journal says the problem would have been solved by a one-time 8.5 percent reduction in state government expenditures.

Topeka Capital-Journal

Sam Brownback is concerned about the efficacy of various pre-kindergarten programs in the state, and the Kansas governor has set up a task force to investigate ways to more effectively prepare children for kindergarten. Dozens of public and private organizations operate early-education programs in Kansas, reports the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

Kansas’s pension system has been underfunded for some time now. Governor Sam Brownback and other state leaders have been working to get the program back on track. However, state leaders may have set themselves a false benchmark for restoring the pension system, reports the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Bo Rader / The Wichita Eagle

The battle in Kansas between the Republican leadership and the state courts has entered a new phase, reports The Kansas City Star. Four district court judges are now suing the state of Kansas. They’re upset about a 2014 law enacted by Governor Sam Brownback and the legislature, which took the power to appoint chief district court judges away from the state supreme court and handed it over to local judges.

Kansas Narrowly Escapes Judicial Funding Disaster

Sep 9, 2015
John Hanna / AP

The budget battle in Kansas has spilled over into the judicial branch. And as reported by The Atlantic Monthly, the state narrowly avoided disaster last week.

Brownback Works to Preserve Ogallala

Sep 4, 2015
cstoddard / Flickr Creative Commons

Plentiful rains will not be enough to replenish the Ogallala Aquifer, notes the Hays Daily News. Last week, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback paid a visit to southwest Kansas, touring the bountiful fields there. But he stressed that the recent rains are insufficient to solve the crisis.

Dave Ranney / KHI News Service

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration on Thursday announced $63 million in changes to the state budget.

Much of that comes from increases in federal aid, cost-cutting measures and some services costing less than initially projected. Brownback’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, outlined the plan in a Statehouse news conference.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

The State of Kansas would like to dismiss a federal lawsuit taken up by the ACLU last year, in which several gay couples have sued for equal treatment under the law, alleging discrimination from religious organizations in the state. 

Kansas Near Bottom in Summer Food Program

Jul 21, 2015
Andy Marso / Kansas Health Institute

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Half of Kansas kids now qualify for free- and reduced-price lunches during the school year.

But only about 7 percent of those kids participate in summer food programs that keep them fed when school is out, according to a Wednesday presentation at the 2015 Kansas Conference on Poverty.

Andrew Burton / Getty Images

Because of an AP reporter’s determination this week, Kansas voters learned of several proposed statewide budget cuts that they would not otherwise have been made aware of, including the laying off of prison guards, cutting of public school funds, and reduced payments to health care providers and nursing homes.

Kansas Department of Revenue

President Obama’s executive action to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could lead to some unauthorized immigrants having the necessary identification to obtain a Kansas driver’s license.

Revenue numbers for July through September, the first three months of fiscal year 2015, suggest Kansas’ revenue gap is permanent, not temporary. Analysis by the The Upshot projects the deficit for the fiscal year could be $250 million more than the already estimated $350 million

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