Jim McLean

REPORTER AND EDITOR, KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

Jim McLean is the managing director of KMUW's Kansas News Service, a collaboration between KMUW and other public media stations across Kansas. 

Jim was previously news director and Statehouse bureau chief for Kansas Public Radio and a managing editor for the Topeka Capital-Journal. He has received awards for journalistic excellence from the Kansas Press Association, Society of Professional Journalists and Kansas Association of Broadcasters.

 

Ways to Connect

Michael Cannon / flickr Creative Commons

A group pushing for elimination of the sales tax on groceries in Kansas is touting a new study.

The Wichita State University study shows that even before it was raised last month from 6.15 percent to 6.5 percent, the statewide sales tax was costing rural grocers an average of about $18,000 a year in lost sales.

The study was paid for by KC Healthy Kids, a nonprofit organization pushing to make Kansas the 37th state to eliminate its sales tax on groceries.

KHI.org/Annie E. Casey Foundation

An annual survey that charts the well-being of children in the state shows that Kansas is making progress in some areas but is falling behind in others. Heartland Health Monitor’s Jim McLean has more on the Kids Count rankings.

Kansas retained its overall ranking of 15th in this year’s Kids Count rankings compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Dave Ranney, Heartland Health Monitor

Douglas County District Court Judge Peggy Carr Kittel is raising questions about possible changes to the state’s foster care program. As Heartland Health Monitor’s Jim McLean reports, the judge is concerned the state may soon require foster-care couples to be married.

Judge Kittel outlined her concerns in a letter to officials at the Kansas Department of Children and Families. She says requiring all couples providing foster to marry would reduce the number of foster homes at a time when there are near record numbers of children in the system.

Jim McLean

Advocates for Kansans with disabilities say the state's privatized Medicaid system is too often failing the people it's supposed to serve. They aired their complaints yesterday during a hearing in Topeka, hosted by the National Council on Disability.

They say the for-profit companies running the KanCare program seem more interested in saving money than providing needed services.

PHIL CAUTHON / KHI News Service/File photo

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/File photo

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.

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