Kansas Legislature

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

A Kansas Senate committee has voted to restore some funding to higher education. Cuts were made to state colleges and universities earlier this fiscal year.

Gov. Sam Brownback had proposed adding millions of dollars in the coming two years to a state scholarship fund. As part of the Senate budget plan, the new money would instead be diverted and used to restore some funding to the University of Kansas and Kansas State University.

Sam Zeff / Kansas News Service

Kansas lawmakers have waited for half the session to get a look at what will probably be the basis for a new school funding formula.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Kansas lawmakers are wrestling with a budget deficit and looking at a wide range of tax proposals to help cover the shortfall. A House committee considered the merits of a flat tax Monday, but the bills don’t seem to have much support.

The plans would eliminate tax brackets, so there would only be one Kansas income tax rate. One bill would set that at 3.9 percent, the other at 5 percent.

Kansas lawmakers know they are late to the Medicaid expansion party, but they appear determined to show up anyway.

"I feel like now is as good a time as any," says Anthony Hensley, the leader of the Democratic minority in the state Senate.

For the past three years, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and legislative leaders were able to block debate on expanding health care for the disabled and working poor via Medicaid, a component of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Not anymore.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

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.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

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.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File photo

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.

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