Stephen Koranda

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. 

Nick Ares, flickr Creative Commons

New numbers show Kansas revenues were $15 million short of estimates in October. So far this fiscal year, the state has brought in $57 million less than expected.

Kansas income tax collections beat the estimate significantly, but that was outweighed by drops in other areas like sales taxes. Republican Secretary of Revenue Nick Jordan said in a statement that Kansas is following a national trend with these sluggish sales tax numbers.

Stephen Koranda

Kansas prison space is already at capacity and the problem of overcrowding is expected to get worse.

Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts says lawmakers should consider expanding the El Dorado facility to help manage the inmate population.

There are other options to help in the short-term, such as reducing sentences for inmates who complete job training or drug treatment classes. But Roberts believes expanding the El Dorado prison is a better, long-term solution.

Stephen Koranda

A group of Kansas lawmakers will meet this week to study tax exemptions and credits. They’re considering if some of the exemptions should be modified or eliminated.

There are lots of tax exemptions in Kansas. When it comes to sales taxes, the exemptions range from Girl Scout cookie sales to the purchase of farm machinery.

During recent tax debates, lawmakers have looked at cutting them back, but some are popular or supported by powerful advocacy groups.

Kansas regulators have decided to continue limits on wastewater disposal associated with oil and gas production in south central Kansas. It’s part of an effort to study and reduce earthquake activity. The rules regulate how much water can be pumped into underground disposal wells in Sumner and Harper County.

Samir Arif with the Kansas Corporation Commission says regulators have been studying whether wastewater injection is influencing earthquakes.


Newly minted Speaker Paul Ryan earned the support of the full Kansas delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

All four of the Kansas Republicans supported Ryan, even 1st District Congressman Tim Huelskamp.

He’s a member of the Tea Party and the conservative House Freedom Caucus that had been critical of former speaker John Boehner.

The Freedom Caucus had initially pushed a different candidate for speaker.

Stephen Koranda

Residents in the tiny, southeast Kansas town of Mapleton are closely watching the temperatures as they fall into the 50s and 40s this time of year. That's because many of their homes don’t have heat. The city lost its natural gas service earlier this year.

Mapleton received a federal grant to help residents update their heating systems, but as Stephen Koranda reports, the process has been moving slowly. That has some residents wondering if they’ll be left out in the cold.

Stephen Koranda file photo

A Kansas Statehouse committee is studying education spending to lay the groundwork for writing a new school funding formula. Lawmakers tossed out the old spending plan earlier this year and went to a temporary block grant system. Republican state Representative Ron Highland says they’re hoping to craft a new school funding formula next year.

“That’s what I’m hearing from leadership. (There are) a lot of complicating factors, election year and those things, but we put ourselves on a two-year time table and we have to work on it,” says Highland.

Stephen Koranda

A group of Kansas lawmakers Friday took a deep look at teacher salaries and benefits. The panel is gathering information to help legislators write a new school funding formula.

Republican Representative Ron Highland says they’re studying student performance and how state education money is spent, but the committee itself won’t be writing the new school funding plan.

“We’re going to gather the information and then the money wonks they will be working on that, but they’ve got to have this information to solidify what they want to do,” he says.

This story originally aired Thursday during All Things Considered.

Republican Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo had some pointed questions for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday. The exchange came at hearing focused on the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. Pompeo questioned Clinton on her response.

“Why didn’t you fire someone? In Kansas, I get asked constantly, 'Why has no one been held accountable?' Why has no person lost a single paycheck?” Pompeo asked.

An advocacy group based in Washington says a business incentive program in Kansas is biased in favor of large businesses.

The PEAK program allows businesses to keep most of the state withholding taxes when they create certain types of jobs. The group Good Jobs First says larger organizations are less likely to need to help provided by PEAK.

Matt Keith, with the Kansas Department of Commerce, says the group is only looking at one of the state’s incentives.