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

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is staying tight-lipped about whether he might take a job as an ambassador in Italy. The job, which would be based in Rome, is an ambassadorship to U.N. food and humanitarian groups.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

At a time when Kansas is facing a serious budget deficit and a court order saying school funding is inadequate, Gov. Sam Brownback may be preparing to leave the state for a job in Italy. A former high-ranking government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, tells Kansas Public Radio that Brownback will be named the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations agencies for food and agriculture in Rome.

Stephen Koranda

The Kansas Senate voted almost unanimously Tuesday to kill Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax proposal. The 37-1 vote sends a message to the governor: Senate leaders want new tax and budget options.

Recently, leaders in the Kansas Senate have been frustrated with the governor’s proposal, which relies largely on increasing business filing fees and taxes on tobacco and alcohol.

Senate President Susan Wagle says she doesn’t like the plan because she says it won’t put the state on solid financial ground. She accuses the governor of not taking the state’s budget deficit seriously.

Stephen Koranda

Vending machines in Kansas could sell more than just soda and candy bars under a bill pending in the Legislature. The proposal would allow vending machines to sell lottery tickets. Supporters say it would be more convenient for players and would reduce staff costs for stores that sell tickets. They estimate it would increase sales by at least $25 million. Sherriene Jones-Sontag, with the Kansas Lottery, says 38 other states already sell lottery tickets through vending machines.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas lawmakers are getting back to work on taxes quickly after taking a break. Leaders in the state Senate are planning to take up Gov. Sam Brownback's tax proposal Tuesday.

Brownback has proposed hiking Kansas tobacco and alcohol taxes and increasing business filing fees to help balance the state budget. Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning says they’ll debate the governor’s bill, even though they might not like the plan.

Michael Coghlan, flickr Creative Commons

Kansas lawmakers are reviewing a plan from the governor that would tear down a state prison and let a private company build a new one, which the state would then lease back.

A House committee has taken an initial step towards approving the proposal to tear down and replace part of the Lansing Correctional Facility in northeast Kansas.

However, some lawmakers raised concerns, prompting House Appropriations Committee Chairman Troy Waymaster to promise a public hearing.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File photo

Kansas lawmakers return to Topeka Monday after a week-long break. As Stephen Koranda reports, they’ll get back to work with some new information about the challenges they face.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Gov. Sam Brownback and lawmakers are divided on a business tax exemption. Lawmakers sent the governor a bill repealing the exemption and raising other taxes to balance the budget, but Brownback vetoed it. The issue of business taxes might continue to be a sticking point in the tax debate.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File photo

Kansas lawmakers are regrouping on the issue of taxes. This week, Gov. Sam Brownback vetoed a tax increase that would have helped balance the budget.

Kansas Senate leaders have been frustrated after Brownback announced he would veto the tax bill, which would have rolled back many of his signature 2012 tax cuts. 

“The House leadership and the Senate leadership asked the governor that if he was going to veto the bill, that he give us a budget plan that we can vote for in the House and the Senate," Senate President Susan Wagle said. "That didn’t come."

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File photo

The Kansas House has approved a bill that would expand the Medicaid health care program in Kansas to include people making 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Expanding KanCare would potentially offer health insurance for thousands of low-income Kansans.

The legislation passed on an 81-44 vote, but must still go through the Senate and face a possible veto from Gov. Sam Brownback, who has been a critic of Medicaid expansion. Republican Rep. Susan Concannon says supporters are not deterred.

Pages