Sam Brownback

Gage Skidmore, flickr Creative Commons

Kansas taxpayers have been picking up the tab for state officials and legislators to fly in the state-owned executive aircraft to attend out-of-state sports events and take trips with family and friends, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Government officials appear to have no qualms about their own travel in the state's nine-passenger Raytheon King Air 350, despite Kansas' budget crunch that has led the governor to criticize schools for spending too much and lawmakers in the GOP-majority Statehouse to accuse poor people of spending welfare money on cruises.

Heartland Health Monitor / File photo

Kansas hospitals are trying to stop more than $56 million in Medicaid cuts set to take effect tomorrow.

The Kansas Hospital Association is urging federal officials to stop Gov. Sam Brownback from implementing $56.4 million in Medicaid cuts set to take effect Friday.

Brownback ordered the cuts in May to cover shortfalls in the fiscal year 2017 budget approved by the Legislature. The hospital association is asking the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to immediately intervene to stop the cuts, which include a 4 percent reduction in provider payments.

Dave Ranney, File Photo / Heartland Health Monitor

Gov. Sam Brownback said he's disappointed that the state's backlog in unprocessed Medicaid applications is four times as large as previously thought.

As Kansas and a contractor battle over who bears blame for the error, Brownback called the situation "frustrating" in a short interview with the Topeka Capital-Journal.

The number of unprocessed Medicaid applications had been about 3,500 people before the state acknowledged earlier this month that the actual figure was more than 15,000.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

The Kansas budget director says the state may take additional highway funds and delay a school payment to balance the budget for the current year. June is the last month of the fiscal year, and Budget Director Shawn Sullivan says tax collections could come up short.

Sullivan says Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration could take $16 million in highway funds and up to $45 million in Medicaid fee funds to help cover a budget shortfall.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

The Kansas Supreme Court is giving Gov. Sam Brownback until July 11 to tell the court why it shouldn't force him to fill a vacant district magistrate position.

The court on Tuesday ordered the governor to explain why he didn't make the appointment in 90 days, as required by state law.

Three 26th District judges filed a petition with the court last week after Brownback announced he would wait until after the August primaries to consider filling the vacancy, which was created when Judge Tommy Webb of Haskell County announced his retirement in February.

Sean Sandefur / KMUW

Kansas is one of 46 states that have been receiving significant amounts of money each year from tobacco settlements. Nearly 20 years ago, when the settlement was decided, states were encouraged to use the money for cessation programs and tobacco-related health care costs. In Kansas, the money is funneled into an early childhood education endowment. But the programs that rely on this funding are worried that their ability to serve the community will be in jeopardy if large amounts of the settlement money continues to be diverted to the state’s general fund.

J. Stephen Conn, flickr Creative Commons

Kansas lawmakers may comply with a court ruling over school funding, but they could also take a swipe at the courts in the process.

Legislators want to avoid a school shutdown in a legal fight over school funding, but Gov. Sam Brownback and some other legislators aren’t happy with the Kansas Supreme Court ruling on the matter.

Stephen Koranda file photo

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is already looking ahead to next year’s legislative session, just days before lawmakers are set to meet for a special session.

The governor told Topeka radio station WIBW this week that he wants to put an end to what he says is a decades-long battle over school funding.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Update via AP Wednesday, 10:06 a.m.: Gov. Sam Brownback is preparing to set the date for a special session of the Kansas Legislature on school funding.

The Republican governor plans to sign a proclamation Wednesday afternoon formally calling the GOP-dominated Legislature into special session.

He wants lawmakers to respond to a state Supreme Court order last month declaring that public schools won't be able to open after June 30 if legislators don't rewrite school finance laws.

The court rejected some changes made earlier this year in how Kansas distributes more than $4 billion a year in aid to its 286 local school districts.

The justices said education funding remains unfair to poor districts. Many Republicans have strongly criticized the ruling, and some have wanted to defy the court.

Lawmakers adjourned their annual session June 1.

Original story:

Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says he will call state lawmakers back to Topeka for a special session to work on school funding issues. In a statement, Brownback said he made the decision after consulting with legislative leaders.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Updated Tuesday, 11:09 a.m.: Gov. Sam Brownback announced on his website that he is calling for a special session "to keep Kansas schools open, despite the Court’s threat to close them."

Kansas Democratic lawmakers are pushing their fellow legislators to call a special session to work on school funding. Generally, only the governor calls a special session, but state law says a petition from two-thirds of lawmakers can force the governor to make that call.


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