Jim McLean

Jim McLean, Executive Editor of KHI News Service, oversees the KHI News Service. From 2005 until 2013, McLean coordinated all communications activities at KHI as Vice President for Public Affairs. The position he now occupies was created as part of a strategic initiative to solidify the editorial and operational independence of the KHI News Service. Prior to coming to KHI, McLean had a distinguished career as a journalist, serving as the news director and Statehouse bureau chief for Kansas Public Radio and a managing editor for the Topeka Capital-Journal. During his more than 20 years in Kansas journalism, McLean won numerous awards for journalistic excellence from the Kansas Press Association, regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Kansas Association of Broadcasters. In 1997, McLean and two Capital-Journal colleagues received the Burton W. Marvin News Enterprise Award from the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism for a series of stories on the state’s business climate. McLean holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Washburn University.

PHIL CAUTHON, KHI NEWS SERVICE

Thirty-year-old Brandon Brown was released from the Osawatomie State Hospital on May 14. Three days later, he allegedly attacked a fellow patient at the Haviland Care Center, a nursing facility that specializes in caring for adults with mental illness.

The victim, 61-year-old Jerry Martinez, recently died. And Brown has been charged with second degree murder. The incident has prompted new questions about staffing and budget issues at the state’s two hospitals for the mentally ill.

Kaiser Family Foundation

The U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of the latest legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act preserves federal tax subsidies that nearly 70,000 Kansans used this year to help them purchase health insurance.

If the decision released Thursday had gone the other way, those Kansans, many of whom were previously uninsured, might have been forced to drop their coverage.

PHIL CAUTHON, KHI NEWS SERVICE

A state official on Wednesday announced that Osawatomie State Hospital has stopped admitting patients.

Addressing a meeting in Topeka of the Kansas Mental Health Coalition, Ted Jester, assistant director of mental health services at the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, said admissions were suspended Saturday evening when the hospital’s census reached 146 patients.

Stephen Koranda file photo

Kansas already had the ninth-most regressive tax system in the nation, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

The tax increase signed last week by Gov. Sam Brownback to balance the budget and end the longest legislative session in state history will make the system less fair to low- and middle-income Kansans, said Matt Gardner, executive director of the nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, D.C.

Gage Skidmore, flickr Creative Commons

Governor Sam Brownback is defending the tax package passed by the state Legislature in the final hours of its 113-day session. Jim McLean has more.

From the Associated Press:

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback said Tuesday that Kansas isn't really increasing taxes even though the state will raise its sales and cigarette taxes to balance the budget.

Jim McClean

The legislator leading a faction of Kansas House members pushing to reinstate taxes on business owners exempted by the 2012 tax cut law has given up the battle--for now, at least.

Rep. Mark Hutton, a conservative Republican businessman from Wichita, said Wednesday that a veto threat from Gov. Sam Brownback and other factors meant that continuing the fight would make it more likely that lawmakers would go home without balancing the budget, forcing Brownback to make across-the-board spending cuts to erase a projected deficit of roughly $400 million.

Stephen Koranda

Kansans will pay higher sales and cigarette taxes under a tax plan approved by a single vote Sunday in the state Senate. The tax increases are needed to balance the state budget. But as Jim McLean reports, the House hasn’t yet considered the plan. That vote is scheduled for Monday afternoon.

Kansas Legislature

Before the start of this year’s legislative session, few would have predicted that Wichita Republican Mark Hutton would spearhead an effort to roll back some of the income tax cuts championed by Gov. Sam Brownback. Hutton, after all, is a conservative businessman whose campaign website boasts of his efforts to lower taxes. But as Jim McLean reports from the Statehouse, Hutton is taking the governor on because he doesn’t believe the tax cuts are fair.

Several Kansas lawmakers are telling Republican leaders they won't vote to increase taxes unless they also get a chance to vote on a Medicaid expansion plan.

The legislator leading the effort says including expansion in the package being negotiated to balance the budget could influence the votes of up to 20 moderate Republicans in the House.

Jim McLean has more.

UPDATE: Gov. Brownback Signs Emissions Reduction Plan

May 29, 2015
D1V1D, flickr Creative Commons

Governor Sam Brownback says federal regulators are moving too aggressively to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants. The governor signed a bill yesterday requiring state agencies to craft a state plan and to resist federal efforts if necessary. More from Heartland Health Monitor’s Jim McLean.

 

More from KHI News Service's Andy Marso:

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