Governor Sam Brownback

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.”

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.

Wikimedia Commons

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.

Wikimedia Commons

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).

Wikimedia Commons

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.

Wikimedia Commons

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.

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