Kansas Legislature

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Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget plan assumes millions of dollars in savings on education based on an efficiency study. It looks like those savings might not materialize, at least for the coming fiscal year.

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The Kansas Senate has approved a budget-balancing plan for the current fiscal year that avoids cuts to state services. The 27-13 vote advances the bill to negotiations between the House and Senate.

Senators spent much of the debate considering whether they should use cuts to help close a nearly $300 million budget gap. They eventually rejected three proposals to make spending cuts.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

At a time when lawmakers are considering tax increases to help balance the budget, a proposal in the Kansas Senate would make it more difficult to raise taxes.

The proposed constitutional amendment would require a two-thirds vote by lawmakers for any tax increase, and it would cap state spending and revenue growth. To overcome that cap would require a public vote.

Republican Sen. Ty Masterson says the public should have more say when it comes to tax increases.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

The chief justice of the Kansas Supreme Court made a pitch for more court funding during Wednesday's State of the Judiciary address before a joint session of the Legislature.

Justice Lawton Nuss says they've been losing staff and have trouble recruiting new workers and judges because of low pay. Nuss is asking lawmakers for $40 million over two years for raises and other costs.

“I do have a concern that if this trend continues, our ability to provide justice to Kansans will suffer,” Nuss said Wednesday.

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Kansas senators will consider a budget-balancing plan for the current fiscal year that avoids cuts, but Thursday's debate will likely also include some talk of budget trimming.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Kansas legislators advanced a new budget-balancing plan Tuesday aimed at allowing the state to pay its bills through June without cutting spending on public schools while it waits for new revenue from raising taxes to flow.

The state Senate Ways and Means Committee unanimously endorsed a bill to authorize internal government borrowing and temporarily short contributions to public employees' pensions to cover a gap in its current budget, for the fiscal year ending June 30. The full Senate expects to debate the bill Thursday.

kslegislature.org

A Kansas senator who compared Planned Parenthood to Dachau doubled down on his statement and called Planned Parenthood worse than Nazi concentration camps.

Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, a Republican from Leavenworth, told KCUR in Kansas City on Monday that he saw nothing wrong with the comparison, which he made in a letter to Planned Parenthood after a woman made a donation to the organization in his name.

Asked if he thought Planned Parenthood was akin to a Nazi concentration camp, he replied, “Worse. Much worse, much worse, much worse."

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

The Kansas House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee Monday advanced a bill making changes to the sweeping juvenile justice reforms put in place last year.

Rep. Russ Jennings, a Republican from Lakin who chairs the committee, said some people thought the reforms had some unintended consequences, leading to a request for a full repeal of last year’s bill.

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State lawmakers need to write a new formula for funding Kansas schools and close budget gaps in the current and coming fiscal years. As Stephen Koranda reports, they’ll be attacking those issues separately.

Senate leaders are going to take a two-pronged strategy, starting with balancing the Kansas budget. Then they’ll focus on a new school funding formula. The Kansas Supreme Court says the current funding is inadequate.

If lawmakers add more money for schools, the Senate’s majority leader, Jim Denning, says that will be built into the school funding bill.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

The president of the Kansas Senate says a new school funding formula needs to focus on the quarter of students who are at-risk and not meeting state standards. And simply adding money to a funding formula won’t solve the problem, she says.

Sen. Susan Wagle, a Republican from Wichita, says the federal Head Start program is a good model on how to help at-risk children.

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