Written by Bob Brookens Tuesday, 03 March 2009 13:47The major source of interest at the statehouse this week is the president’s economic stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
Unlike some states, Kansas isn’t making much noise about rejecting the revenue in the package, and this week Kansas accepted its first installment of new federal Medicaid dollars. That $71.5 million will reduce pressure on the our general fund. It is part of roughly $440 million Kansas will receive over two years, just for Medicaid.
The state agencies of education, energy, transportation and social services are beginning to grasp how the stimulus package applies to them. We now know if Kansas accepts the federal money, we cannot cut budgets related to that money any deeper than...
Written by Bob Brookens Tuesday, 24 February 2009 13:55Last week, I mentioned several pending education bills. All were defeated—two on the floor of the House and one was laid to rest in committee.
The legislature decided this was not a time to single out small schools and starve them into closing. There may be a time Kansas insists that its smallest districts—perhaps those with less than 100 students in the entire district—consolidate. Some districts of various sizes are talking with each other about voluntary consolidation, but the legislature has no current desire to force the issue.
Saturday was turn-around day, the last day each house has to pass out its own bills and send them to the other house for consideration.
The House spent most of Thursday and Friday in the House...
Written by Bob Brookens Tuesday, 17 February 2009 13:54The House and Senate passed a revised 2009 budget Thursday and sent it to the governor. Now we’ll see whether the governor accepts it, vetoes it, or exercises her right to line-item veto certain parts.
The minority leaders of the Senate and House are advocating the governor veto the school-funding provision; and she has that power. That would help our districts make it through this school year, but it will put the state in a bind elsewhere.
You already know I voted for the House/Senate package, believing it to be the best we could do. The governor also appears to still have misgivings about paying the “slider” money and may try to tinker with that one, as well.
I have not heard of any other hot issues relating to the 2009...
Written by Bob Brookens Tuesday, 10 February 2009 13:59This past week saw the House finally take up the issue of the 2009 budget modifications. We have a duty to balance the issues and balance the budget.
We dealt with the governor’s proposal, the Senate Ways and Means Committee proposal, the final Senate bill, the House Appropriations Committee bill, and finally, the amended House proposal.
By the time the governor proposed her budget modifications, it was grossly out-of-balance and inaccurate. It had to be modified and more cuts made—circumstances had already changed in our economy.
The difficulty with modifying the budget at this time of the year is that K-12 education has so little time left in its year and has very few places to cut its spending. Having said that, K-12 education...
Written by Bob Brookens Tuesday, 03 February 2009 14:02When I first arrived in Topeka for the legislative session, one of the legislators referred to the legislative process as trying to drink from a fire hose. Well, I now understand fully what that feels like!
We’re being fed so much information so quickly we cannot gulp it all in, so we learn to prioritize—to study and digest our own committees’ work first, the issues of the upcoming week second, and then fill in the spare moments.
I’m getting better at that.
I’d like to say thanks to all of you who have contacted me this past week. I appreciate your input and questions, and I especially appreciate your kind words about this column.
I hope you all find it helpful. That is its purpose. These are challenging times, and the...
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