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 isn’t giving details on the Kansas budget plan he’ll present to lawmakers next month, but he has offered a few hints and suggestions on what the state should do.

Lawmakers will have to close budget gaps in the current and coming fiscal year.

Brownback says his plan will include both cuts and revenue to balance the budget. He also says Kansas will need both short- and long-term fixes to get the state out of the red.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Kansas lawmakers have some major issues to tackle in the next legislative session, and one of their top challenges will be writing a new school funding formula.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is firing back against claims made by a top lawmaker this week regarding his future political plans.

Republican Senate President Susan Wagle said Brownback might not be focused on the state’s budget problems, because he might be focused on a possible job in the administration of President-elect Donald Trump.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Kansas faces budget shortfalls in both the current and coming fiscal years. Gov. Sam Brownback will present lawmakers with a proposal for closing the budget gap. As Stephen Koranda reports, the governor has dropped a hint on what his plan will include.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

A Senate committee has recommended the confirmation of former Representative Richard Carlson to head the Kansas Department of Transportation.

However, it wasn’t a unanimous vote. Democratic Sen. Anthony Hensley noted that Carlson chaired the House Tax Committee in 2012 when the state slashed income taxes.

In recent years, the state has repeatedly taken money from the highway fund to help balance the budget.

“Mr. Carlson really led the effort in the House to pass a plan that has basically decimated the Department of Transportation and the highway fund," Hensley said.

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.

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