Stephen Koranda

Contributing Reporter

Stephen Koranda reports on the Kansas Legislature, state government and everything else for Kansas Public Radio. He previously worked in Mississippi and Iowa, where he covered stories ranging from hurricanes to state executions. 

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

A Kansas House committee has advanced a spending bill that would balance the budget for the current fiscal year without making cuts to education. The House Appropriations Committee voted for a proposal similar to Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan, which would dissolve a state investment fund to close a more than $300 million budget gap.

Republican committee chairman Troy Waymaster calls it “the best of the bad options.” He says the alternative is cutting state services and education, which would be hard to absorb.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Kansas lawmakers have the tall order of writing a new school funding formula this year to replace temporary block grants. The work so far has been behind the scenes.

There have been school funding proposals introduced in the Kansas Legislature, but committees have yet to advance any plans.

Republican House Speaker Ron Ryckman says he wants something that’s sustainable and is predictable when it comes to costs for the state and funding for schools. Ryckman wants to have a plan in place by April, but that’s not a hard deadline.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

While one tax plan stalls in the Kansas Senate, another tax proposal makes headway in the Kansas House.

Thursday, the House tax committee advanced a bill that would eliminate an income tax exemption for business owners. It would also add a third income tax bracket and raise income tax rates.

Some Republicans say the income tax hikes are too steep for them to support. Others, like Republican Representative Melissa Rooker, say it would help with the state’s finances.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File photo

A tax and budget debate fizzled in the Kansas Senate Thursday, before it had even started. As Stephen Koranda reports, the situation reveals just how divided lawmakers have become as they work to solve the state's budget crisis.

The Kansas Senate will take a crack at tax and budget plans Thursday. The full chamber will debate a budget bill that cuts K-12 and higher education by $150 million to help eliminate a deficit.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

A Kansas Senate committee has advanced a bill that would update the information provided to a woman seeking an abortion.

The bill also specifies that the information must be printed in 12-point, Times New Roman font so it’s legible. It would add additional details about a physician’s credentials, insurance and any disciplinary actions against them.

Kathy Ostrowski with the group Kansans for Life says the change will give women more information about abortion providers.

Stephen Koranda, File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

A Kansas Senate committee has advanced a budget plan that would cut education spending significantly to help balance the budget for the current fiscal year, which ends in June. The state faces a budget shortfall of more than $300 million in the current year.

Republican Senate leaders say it's part of long-term plan to get the state budget on solid financial footing. Critics say it would mean major cuts to education with just months left in the fiscal year.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

A Kansas Senate committee has advanced a bill that would repeal an income tax exemption for more than 300,000 business owners. That sends the proposal to the full Senate for consideration. The plan would also increase income tax rates overall.

Republican Sen. Julia Lynn supported the measure because she said the Legislature needs to make some progress on tax issues.

“This is a situation that has been floundering for four years. Although it might not be the best bill that’s put forward, it’s the beginning of a process,” Lynn said.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

A Kansas Senate committee started discussions on a bill Monday that would repeal a key piece of the 2012 tax cuts and raise personal income tax rates. A committee vote on the plan could come as soon as Tuesday.

Stephen Koranda

Gov. Sam Brownback says Cowley County Community College is responding to his challenge to offer a four-year degree for just $15,000. Students who enroll would start their education at the community college before moving to Fort Hays State University. Eligible degrees are in the areas of education and technology.

Brownback made the challenge in the State of the State Address and announced the new degree plan Friday. He says the state has an interest in providing an alternative to more expensive college degrees.

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