Sam Brownback

Mel Green, flickr Creative Commons

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is preparing to sign bills to change the timing of many local elections and to give the secretary of state the power to prosecute election fraud cases.

Brownback was having a signing ceremony Monday at the Statehouse.

One bill moves city and local school board elections from the spring to the fall of odd-numbered years. Supporters contend the change will boost turnout.

Critics say the change will be disruptive and that there are other ways to increase voter participation, including voting by mail.

Kansas Legislature

Before the start of this year’s legislative session, few would have predicted that Wichita Republican Mark Hutton would spearhead an effort to roll back some of the income tax cuts championed by Gov. Sam Brownback. Hutton, after all, is a conservative businessman whose campaign website boasts of his efforts to lower taxes. But as Jim McLean reports from the Statehouse, Hutton is taking the governor on because he doesn’t believe the tax cuts are fair.

Stephen Koranda file photo

Lawmakers are in the 104th day of the 2015 legislative session, making it the second-longest session in Kansas state history. Legislators are looking for more than $400 million to close the state’s budget gap.

KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports on how the last several days have played out in the Kansas Statehouse.

Kansas Legislature

Governor Sam Brownback’s administration says the governor will veto any tax bills that include a roll-back of business income tax cuts. Brownback’s secretary of revenue made that announcement over the weekend. But Republican Representative Mark Hutton, from Wichita, says he’ll keep pushing for a change in business income tax rules.

Stephen Koranda file photo

Governor Sam Brownback’s administration says many state workers will be sent home without pay starting June 7th if Kansas lawmakers don’t pass a budget. KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports...

Brownback’s budget director Shawn Sullivan told a group of Senators at the Statehouse yesterday that the furloughs would happen unless a Kansas budget is in place by 11:59 p.m. on Saturday.

“We don’t have authority to pay employees past June 6th without a budget giving us authority to do that,” Sullivan says.

Stephen Koranda file photo

The Kansas secretary of revenue says Republican Governor Sam Brownback will veto any attempts to roll back business income tax cuts. Secretary Nick Jordan told a group of senators yesterday that Brownback was opposed to any broad changes to business tax rules.

More than 300,000 business owners pay zero state income tax because of the 2012 tax cut, and some lawmakers want to look at amending that to help close a budget gap.

Senate Republican Majority Leader Terry Bruce believes the governor has shut the door on that issue for now.

Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a bill that rewrites the rules for teachers, school administrators and other public employees who return to work after retiring.

Public employees currently are allowed to retire but return to work and earn up to $20,000 a year while drawing their pension benefits. Schools regularly use the program for hard-to-fill positions.

The program expires at the end of June. The bill would make changes to the program after extending it for a year.

Stephen Koranda

After the first week of June, Kansas state employees could be furloughed if there isn’t a budget in place for the coming fiscal year. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, Republican Governor Sam Brownback’s administration has said they are working on plans to do that.

 

While his office is considering options, Governor Brownback says they have some flexibility on when Kansas state workers would be sent home without pay. Brownback says he’ll be pushing for lawmakers to avoid furloughs.

Sean Sandefur

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's office is working to determine when it would have to inform state workers they would be furloughed if a budget is not passed on time, the governor's spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The Legislature already is in overtime on its 90-day session, with Wednesday being its 97th day, and has yet to pass a balanced budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Spokeswoman Sara Belfry said the governor's office is working with several agencies to "determine the last possible date" the budget would need to be passed in order to avoid payroll disruptions.

Stephen Koranda / File Photo

Twenty-four hours in politics is like a year in ordinary life, when surprising and unexpected happenings occur.

Governor Brownback asserted in his State of the State speech that the “march to zero” on income taxes would continue in Kansas. Twenty-four hours later, the administration announced that this “march” would be slowed.

Two new tax proposals were also announced. One is a 300 percent increase on a pack of cigarettes, from 79 cents to $2.29. The other raises the tax on liquor from eight percent to 12 percent.

Pages