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

Gov. Sam Brownback has given few details about what he'll propose to balance the Kansas budget. The leader of the state Senate is raising concerns that Brownback's future political plans could be influencing his decisions.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Officials with the state’s pension plan say the system's investments won’t be paying as much as they previously expected. That grows the long-term deficit in the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System and will make it more challenging to eliminate a shortfall.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas lawmakers might try to increase taxes next year as one way to solve the state's budget woes, but that could be too little, too late for the immediate budget challenge.

The state faces a $350 million budget shortfall in the current fiscal year, which ends in June. Undoing tax cuts and implementing tax increases would help eliminate a budget shortfall for next fiscal year, but generally would not help out in the current fiscal year.

Washburn University Political Science Professor Bob Beatty says that’s what makes this such a tough challenge.

A last-minute grant from the State of Kansas is helping a suicide prevention call center in Lawrence stay open.

Headquarters Counseling Center serves 104 of the state's 105 counties by fielding calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The organization has been struggling to stay open because of a funding crunch.

Last week, Executive Director Andy Brown received an unexpected call: It was from the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services offering a $25,000 grant.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Groups representing Kansas teachers, state workers, contractors and others are proposing a tax overhaul they say would solve the state’s budget problems. The plan would undo some tax cuts made in recent years by raising the top income tax rate. It would also reinstate income taxes on hundreds of thousands of businesses.

Former Kansas Budget Director Duane Goossen and others revealed the tax plan Wednesday in Topeka. He says the tax cuts have hurt the state’s ability to invest in needed services and the proposal would reverse that.

Stephen Koranda

There will be a political shift in the Kansas legislature with the new leaders lawmakers selected Monday. Conservatives will hold on to the very top jobs for 2017, but more moderate Republicans also picked up key positions. There is turnover among some of the Democratic leadership posts too.

All the change reflects gains made by moderate Republicans in the August primaries, and gains by Democrats in November, especially in the House. The move to the center on the Senate side is more subtle, but nonetheless notable.

Dole Institute of Politics / Facebook

The political landscape is changing at the Kansas Statehouse. When the session starts in January, more Democrats and more moderate-leaning Republicans will fill seats in the state Legislature. They’ll also face two big challenges: filling a $350 million budget hole and writing a new funding formula for public schools.

Last week, lawmakers, reporters and political party officials sat down at the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas to talk about the fall election and discuss what effects it might have on Kansas.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

A report released Thursday shows Kansas revenues last month narrowly beat the state's new, more pessimistic estimate.

Kansas tax collections in November met the estimate almost exactly on the dot.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says he supports President-elect Donald Trump’s claim that millions of illegal votes were cast in the election.

@GovSamBrownback Twitter

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is giving few hints regarding his plan for fixing the Kansas budget shortfall. The state faces a $350 million deficit in the current fiscal year and an additional budget gap next year.

The governor will unveil his Kansas spending plan in January. Brownback told reporters at an event Tuesday that he isn’t working with lawmakers on crafting the proposal, and he wouldn’t give any specifics about what he’s considering.

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