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

Gov. Sam Brownback announced Wednesday that he has reached out to Kansas school districts, boards of education and various education associations asking for input on the state's school funding system.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

A Lawrence man is asking the Kansas Supreme Court to order a grand jury investigation into how Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office handled online voter registrations.

Steven Davis says he’s heard rumors that some Kansas voter registration applications submitted online didn’t make it to county election offices, meaning some people weren’t being registered to vote. He collected signatures under a Kansas law that allows citizens to call for a grand jury with a petition.

wikipedia.org

Great Plains Energy plans to buy Kansas-based Westar Energy in a deal that’s expected to close next year. Kansas regulators are starting the review of the $12 billion agreement. As Stephen Koranda reports, the size of the case could strain the budget of the agency that advocates on behalf of Kansas utility customers.

Stephen Koranda, File Photo

A temporary block grant system for education in Kansas is set to expire next year and lawmakers are planning to write a new school funding formula to replace it. How much money a new formula provides per student could be one of the major issues of contention.

Mark Tallman, with the Kansas Association of School Boards, says Kansas does well on most education measures, but his group is studying the states that perform even better.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

A new report from the Kansas Association of School Boards says Kansas ranks well nationally in many education categories, but it also includes some signs that Kansas may be lagging.

Universities in Kansas have been taking steps to absorb state funding cuts. As Stephen Koranda reports, the University of Kansas and Kansas State University are adopting different approaches.

KU announced this week that there would be positions left unfilled and targeted budget cuts, including some significant reductions to certain programs. At K-State, the strategy is a little different: Spokesperson Jeff Morris says K-State officials gave all departments an equal cut of just under 4 percent.

J. Schafer, Kansas Public Radio

Leaders at the University of Kansas have been working on ways to absorb more than $10 million in state budget cuts. On Wednesday, the Lawrence campus announced more than $1 million in targeted spending reductions. KU Provost Neeli Bendapudi says the goal was to avoid staff reductions and minimize the impact on students.

“It’s obviously not an easy thing to do, but we tried to look at everything that we could do to keep the core academic function of the university as protected as possible,” Bendapudi says.

Sedgwickcounty.org

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach defended the state’s voter registration law in a federal appeals court on Tuesday. He says thousands of Kansans who registered to vote at the DMV without proving their citizenship should not be allowed to cast ballots.

A lower court said in May that those Kansans can vote, but Kobach wants that overturned. Kobach told the appeals court that Kansas is allowed to require citizenship documents that aren’t required under federal law.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is asking a federal appeals court on Tuesday to prevent thousands of Kansans from potentially casting ballots in the fall election.

As Stephen Koranda reports, this is the latest in a long series of litigation over Kansas voter registration requirements.

Dave Ranney, File Photo / Heartland Health Monitor

Governor Sam Brownback’s administration is pursing changes to some state employment policies. That includes modifying how Kansas agencies handle layoffs.

The proposals would change how Kansas agencies determine who gets laid off first and give agencies discretion to protect certain employees.

Rebecca Proctor, with the Kansas Organization of State Employees, says the changes would reduce the value of experience and years of service and make the process more subjective.

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