Government

Government
11:19 am
Mon May 11, 2015

Urban/Rural Divide Mucking Up The Works In Kansas Senate Tax Committee

Credit Stephen Koranda

A divide between rural and urban lawmakers appears to be holding up work in the Senate’s tax committee. The panel has had two meetings where there was little agreement on tax plans. As Stephen Koranda reports, lawmakers are looking for ways to fill a budget gap of more than $400 million.

Senator Jeff Melcher is a Republican from Leawood in Johnson County. He says the Johnson County lawmakers on the tax committee will not support any major tax plans until another issue is settled.

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Government
4:50 pm
Fri May 8, 2015

Sedgwick Co. Commission Expected To Delay Decision On Zoo Funding Agreement

Credit Travel KS / Flickr

The Sedgwick County Commissioners are set to vote Wednesday on a resolution that would delay a decision on the future of a funding agreement with the Sedgwick County Zoo.

KMUW’s Deborah Shaar reports.

The commissioners and zoo officials met several times in the last month about possible changes to the present five-year funding agreement.

Under the current terms, funding will run until 2018. The county itself was required to notify the zoo that it was considering terminating the current agreement to replace it with a year-to-year plan.

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Government
3:02 pm
Fri May 8, 2015

State House Approves Measure To Loosens Marijuana Laws

Credit TMartin_33 / Flickr

The Kansas House has approved a measure that would decrease penalties for marijuana possession, allow the limited use of medical marijuana and study the use of industrial hemp.

House members voted 81-36 Thursday to send the bill to the Senate for consideration.

First- and second-time marijuana offenders without serious prior convictions would avoid jail time under the bill. That would decrease the population in the state's overcrowded prisons and save more than $1.7 million over the next two fiscal years, according to state estimates.

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Government
2:48 pm
Fri May 8, 2015

Kansas House Committee Considers Rolling Back Business Tax Cut

Credit Stephen Koranda

A Kansas House Committee is looking at rolling back a key part of the 2012 tax cut. It's specifically aimed at the tax break that allows more than 300,000 business owners to pay zero income tax on their business income. The goal of the tax break is boosting the economy. Republican Representative Mark Hutton says the tax cut for businesses isn't paying off.

“The individual tax savings are not significant enough to spur employment growth or lure companies to our state, yet it’s costing our state over $200 million,” says Hutton.

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Government
2:04 pm
Thu May 7, 2015

Kansas House Committee Considering Sales Tax Hike

Credit Stephen Koranda

The House Tax Committee is considering a plan to raise the sales tax in Kansas to help fill a budget hole. During a hearing on Wednesday, no one spoke in favor of the plan and only one person signed up to speak against the bill. The Kansas Policy Institute opposes the tax increase and says lawmakers should instead consider more budget cuts.

The committee’s chairman, Republican Marvin Kleeb, says raising the state sales tax from 6.15 to 6.5 percent would provide a quicker infusion of cash.

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Government
11:50 am
Mon May 4, 2015

KanCare Has Lacked An Inspector General For Almost A Year

The job of inspector general for the state's managed care Medicaid program has been open for nearly a year.

The post has been empty since Phil Hermanson resigned in June 2014, just months after he was hired to lead KanCare, an umbrella program for three private managed health care companies.

The lack of a leader for the $3 billion program has drawn attention from lawmakers.

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Government
11:16 am
Mon May 4, 2015

Analysis: Kansas May Revisit Gov. Brownback's Favored Tax Break

Republican lawmakers in Kansas seem more ready to reconsider a business tax break that's been a cherished economic policy for Governor Sam Brownback.

Governor Brownback is clear that he wants to preserve an exemption from personal income taxes for 281,000 business owners and 53,000 farmers.

He calls the policy, enacted in 2012 as part of a larger package of income tax cuts, the "small business accelerator."

But Republican allies who championed the same tax break three years ago say the Legislature will consider narrowing its scope as a budget-balancing move.

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Government
11:46 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Kansas Collects $4.4M Less In Taxes Than Expected In April

Kansas says it collected $4.4 million dollars less in taxes than anticipated this month.

The Department of Revenue said on Thursday that the lower-than-expected collections may be due to how tax returns have been processed since the April 15 filing deadline.

Spokeswoman Jeannine Koranda said the agency can't predict which returns will be processed first.

The state expected to collect nearly $516 million dollars in taxes for the month. Instead, it collected $511.5 million.

Government
11:31 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Kansas House May Rely On Taxes To Fill Budget Hole

Credit Stephen Koranda

The chairman of the House Tax Committee believes lawmakers will need to rely mostly on taxes to fill a hole in the Kansas budget. The state faces a $400 million shortfall next fiscal year. Republican Representative Marvin Kleeb says they’re hoping to avoid cuts to K-12 education, which accounts for half the state budget.

“I don’t think there’s a tremendous amount of expenditure improvement that can happen. We held schools harmless and I think a lot of us feel we made a promise to schools to keep that block grant funding stable for the next two years,” says Kleeb.

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Government
5:10 pm
Tue April 28, 2015

City Plan Calls For Significant Population Growth In Wichita

Credit wichita.gov

City officials are working on a long-term investment plan for Wichita with a goal of adding more than 100,000 new residents over the next 20 years. KMUW’s Sean Sandefur reports…

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