Thu March 21, 2013
Top Morning News 3.21.13
Senate moves its budget forward; Bill cutting sales and income tax gets first-round approval in House; $45M plan to hold down property tax rejected; Wyandotte County and a cluster of counties in southeast Kansas remain among the least healthy in state.
Kansas Senate Give First-Round Approval To New Budget
The Senate's version of the budges includes language that would require legislative approval before the state could expand Medicaid coverage.
The bill, which would spend $14 billion in each of the next two fiscal years, was debated for more than five hours Wednesday.
Final action is set for Thursday, which would set the stage for negotiators to work out differences with the House over spending.
Senators included a provision in the budget bill that leaves open the possibility of Kansas taking a federal offer to expand Medicaid health care coverage, but only if legislators give Gov. Sam Brownback their consent.
Brownback has opposed the federal health care act but has said his administration was looking at all options.
Bill Cutting Sales and Income Taxes Moves Forward In House
The Kansas House has given first-round approval to bill cutting sales and income taxes after rejecting a diversion of highway funds to stabilize the budget.
House Rejects $45M Aid Plan To Hold Down Property Taxes
The Kansas House has rejected a Democratic member's proposal to provide $45 million in state aid to local governments to hold down property taxes.
GOP legislators argued Wednesday the plan from Representative Jim Ward of Wichita would redistribute taxpayer dollars from the state to local governments, not reduce taxes. The money would have been provided over two years.
The vote was 73-48 against an amendment offered by Ward to a bill requiring local government commissions to take a public vote if they intend to spend an increase in property tax revenues that is above the rate of inflation. Local governments can gain extra revenues without raising levies if property values rise.
The House voted 63-58 to give that bill first-round approval, with final action expected Thursday.
Which Kansas Counties Are Healthiest?
The latest Kansas County Health Rankings have been released and Johnson and Riley counties have the healthiest residents in Kansas again this year.
Wyandotte County and a cluster of counties in southeast Kansas remain among the least healthy.
Sedgwick County ranked 72 out of 102.