Government

Dave Ranney, Heartland Health Monitor

The head of a Kansas advocacy group opposes a plan to sell off part of a tobacco lawsuit settlement. The annual payments from the settlement fund children’s programs.

The proposal from Gov. Sam Brownback would sell off part of the payments in exchange for immediate cash to help the state fix a budget shortfall. Shannon Cotsoradis, with the group Kansas Action for Children, calls it a short-term solution.

Jimmy Everson, DVM, flickr Creative Commons

The state of Kansas reduced its revenue projections for this fiscal year and the next by $228.6 million, further increasing the state's budget deficit. As a result, Gov. Sam Brownback proposed three plans for erasing the shortfall, one of which affects K-12 education.

The plan would cut spending to public schools, universities and most state agencies by nearly $140 million. Cuts ranging from 3 percent to 5 percent would reduce funding for school districts across the state by more than $57 million.

City of Wichita

Legislation that would ensure a safe drinking water supply in south-central Kansas passed the U.S. Senate today.

The legislation extends the authorization of federal funding for the Equus Beds Aquifer Recharge and Recovery Project by 10 years. The aquifer is the primary fresh water source for south-central Kansas and lies under parts of Sedgwick, Harvey, Reno and McPherson Counties.

wichita.hyatt.com

The City of Wichita is looking to sell the Hyatt Regency Hotel, which sits at the banks of the Arkansas River downtown.

The city acquired the hotel for more than $18 million in 2001, when the original developers were looking to sell the property. The city was concerned that the flagship “Hyatt” name would be rebranded under a less-notable company.

City officials say they are now ready to see what the hotel can fetch on the open market.

Tony Webster / Flickr Creative Commons

Wichita City Council members have approved a new ordinance regulating massage therapists and businesses.

The city hopes the regulations will eliminate illegal activity.

The Wichita Police Department began investigated massage parlors in 2014 after the city received complaints about possible prostitution.

According to the Wichita Police Department, investigations revealed that some of the women who were being used in illegal massage businesses were, in fact, victims of human trafficking.

Kansas lawmakers could continue work on a so-called step therapy plan when they return to the Statehouse for the veto session. It would require Medicaid patients to try cheaper, proven drugs before trying more expensive options.

Democratic Rep. Jim Ward isn’t sure the plan would actually save the $10 million supporters estimate. He fears it may hurt patient care and would like more protections added to the bill.

Stephen Koranda, File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas lawmakers will learn this week how the state’s finances are shaping up. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, new revenue numbers will be unveiled Wednesday.

The revenue numbers project how much Kansas will collect in taxes, and that information tells lawmakers how much they have to spend.

The Legislature actually already approved a state budget, but it was more of a preliminary plan. They suspected they would need to do more work, and the new revenue numbers will tell them how hard that work will be.

Dave Ranney, Heartland Health Monitor

A children’s advocacy group is charging that welfare policies championed by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback are pushing more families into poverty. Heartland Health Monitor’s Jim McLean has the latest in the ongoing dispute.

The nonprofit advocacy organization Kansas Action for Children says the Brownback administration’s welfare policies are unraveling the state’s social services safety net.

Sean Sandefur / KMUW

State lawmakers from south-central Kansas will be available in the community this weekend for a question-and-answer forum.

The fourth and final legislative forum for the South-Central Kansas Legislative Delegation will take place Saturday at the Wichita State University Hughes Metropolitan Complex from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

The bi-partisan group of state representatives and senators will take written questions from attendees.

Rep. Blake Carpenter expects a wide range of topics to come up.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Update from KHI News Service on 4/20/2016:

Kansas officials got the bad news they were expecting.

After reading the economic tea leaves and noting that state tax collections have been short of expectations in 11 of the past 12 months, the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group reduced its revenue projections for this budget year and the next by $228.6 million.

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