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. 

The Kansas Board of Education is creating a group to study the teacher shortage that's affecting parts of Kansas. As Stephen Koranda reports, the group will recommend ways to make the job more attractive and keep teachers from leaving the career.

The new committee will look at issues like why fewer people are becoming teachers in Kansas and what they can do to reverse that trend.

“This ship will not be turned around in a day, but we have to start the process of turning the ship,” says Board of Education Chairman Jim McNiece.

It appears only a small number of voters affected by a recent court ruling turned out at the polls for the Kansas primaries.

A judge ruled just days before the election that 17,000 people who registered to vote at the DMV - but didn’t turn in a citizenship document - would be allowed to vote in local, state and federal races.

But only about a dozen affected voters cast ballots in Johnson County and even fewer did so in Shawnee County.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW/File photo

Kansas officials are counting votes from this month's primary election, including the votes cast on more than 9,000 provisional ballots across the state. It’s not yet clear how many of those are from 17,000 people affected by a recent court ruling.

Just days before the primary, a judge ruled that people who registered to vote at the DMV, without turning in a citizenship document, would be allowed to vote with a provisional ballot.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Two of the state’s three KanCare Medicaid contracts were making a profit by the end of last year, according to a report given to lawmakers Friday in Topeka.

Some previous records had shown losses at all three of the companies that manage the state’s privatized Medicaid program. By the end of 2015, the newest report shows UnitedHealthcare had made $44 million, Amerigroup had made $31 million and Sunflower Health Plan had lost $16 million.

The Kansas Board of Education has approved more than $7 million in additional funding for 34 school districts, but there’s a catch. As Stephen Koranda reports, the money might never materialize.

The block grant funding system in Kansas doesn’t take into account things like student enrollment growth, but it lets officials like Basehor-Linwood Superintendent David Howard ask for more money to cover new students.

“This isn’t just teachers. We’re actually having to add bus routes and equip new classrooms. That’s part of that total request,” Howard said.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Secretary of State Kris Kobach says the voting in yesterday’s primary election went smoothly across Kansas, with no significant problems. But one issue that remains is how many Kansans cast provisional ballots after a judge allowed 17,000 previously suspended voters to take part in the election.

The provisional ballots from those voters will be hand counted in the coming days. Kobach says he does not expect any issues handling those extra votes.

Ho John Lee / Flickr

There could be thousands of additional provisional ballots cast in Kansas during Tuesday's primary election because of a recent court ruling. A judge says 17,000 people who were previously suspended for not turning in a citizenship document will be allowed to vote in state and local races. They will be casting provisional ballots that county officials will hand count after the election.

Kansas tax collections missed the mark in July and came in below estimates by more than $12 million.

According to the AP, the Department of Revenue reported Monday that the state collected $425 million in taxes last month, compared with the state's official projection of nearly $438 million. The shortfall was 2.9 percent.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

About one in four registered voters will cast a ballot in tomorrow’s Kansas primary election, according to Secretary of State Kris Kobach. He said expects about 410,000 thousand people to vote, a slight increase from the last presidential election cycle in 2012.

Kobach says the high number of contested legislative races will play a part in the higher turnout. In previous years, Kobach says, many legislative districts only had a competitive primary on either the Democratic or the Republican side.

vox_efx / Flickr / Creative Commons

Tuesday’s primary election could change the balance of ideologies in the Kansas Legislature. If that happens, Clay Barker, executive director of the state GOP, says it’ll probably be in the House. According to Barker, if moderate Republicans pick up eight to 10 seats currently held by conservatives, there could be a power shift on issues related to schools and taxes.