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 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.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Officials from the University of Kansas Health System are asking state lawmakers to let them continue banning guns. State law will require the hospital to either allow concealed guns later this year or install more security, including metal detectors and security staff.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Opponents of allowing guns on Kansas campuses are not giving up their fight, despite a setback in a state Senate committee this week.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Lawmakers in the Kansas House are considering Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to help fill a budget hole by dissolving a state investment fund holding more than $300 million.

The proposal would pay back the money over seven years, but some legislators are skeptical they will make the payments.

Democratic Rep. Tom Burroughs says they delayed a payment to KPERS, the state pension plan, with the promise to pay it back. So far, that hasn’t happened.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Kansas 2nd District Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins says she will leave her seat at the end of this term and explore jobs in the private sector.

There have been rumors about her running for Kansas governor in 2018, as Gov. Sam Brownback's second term will be ending. In a statement, Jenkins seems to put those rumors to rest.

"I will not be running for any office in 2018. In two years, at the conclusion of this Congress, I plan to retire and explore opportunities to return to the private sector, allowing a new citizen legislator to step up and serve Kansans," Jenkins says.

Greyerbaby, Pixabay Creative Commons

An advocacy group is making another push this year to broaden sales of wine and beer Kansas. The group Uncork Kansas is proposing a bill that would allow grocery and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer and wine.

In the past, opponents claimed that expanding the sale of alcohol would hurt small businesses, namely liquor stores. Jessica Lucas, with Uncork Kansas, says the new bill tries to satisfy those concerns.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Voters in the 4th Congressional District in south-central Kansas will choose a new member of Congress on April 11.

Republican Mike Pompeo officially stepped down Monday after he was confirmed to become the director of the CIA. Gov. Sam Brownback signed an order Tuesday setting the date for the election.  

Brownback says he chose the earliest Tuesday available under state law because he wants the seat filled quickly.

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