Daily Archives: Feb. 17, 2009

Courthouse parking meters get a facelift

Parking tickets tend to bring out the worst in people.

A friend of mine from San Francisco kept a bumper sticker on her car that said “Meter maids eat their own.”

Sedgwick County officials reprogrammed the parking meters Tuesday around the courthouse to make them more consistent. Commissioners had fielded a few complaints from residents that some meters cost more than others.

The meters have a five-hour limit, and are a nickel for 15 minutes, a dime for 30 minutes and a quarter for 75 minutes.

Budget bill reaches the governor’s desk

A bill cutting $325.6 million from this year’s budget arrived on the governor’s desk about noon today, her office confirmed.

No word yet on when Gov. Kathleen Sebelius might take action on the bill. She could sign it, veto it or veto portions of the proposal, House substitute for Senate Bill 23.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate say the bill must be signed before the state can loan itself more money.

On Monday, Sebelius, a Democrat, planned to ask the State Finance Council to allow the Kansas to borrow $225 million from healthy accounts to cover current expenses. The money would pay for state income tax returns, state employee paychecks and Medicaid payments.

The GOP heads said without the budget bill signed the state couldn’t ensure it could pay back the borrowed money before the end of the fiscal year, June 30.

Both Speaker of the House Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, and Senate President Stephen Morris, R-Hugoton, have sent out releases urging the governor to sign the bill quickly.

“We strongly encourage her to review and sign the rescission bill or take the necessary steps in order to ensure that hard working Kansas receive their refunds and that state employees are paid in a timely manner,” said O’Neal in a join release with other House GOP leaders. “Bottom line, if the Governor wants state employees to get paid and taxpayers to receive their refunds, she has the ability make that happen within legal limits.”

Talking points for legislative secretaries

If you call your lawmaker today to talk about the state’s spending issues, it’s possible you’ll hear some of the following phrases.

Legislative leaders sent the instructions out to all lawmakers’ secretaries with suggestion on handling calls.

Below are the recommended talking points, including pointers for handling the more disgruntled callers.

“Thank you for taking the time to call. We know people are worried and upset. Senator _____ will continue to work with legislative leadership and the administration to make sure the State meets all of its obligations, including state payroll and clearing the way for state tax refunds, meeting the full statutory requirements.”

“Would you care to leave your name and number or email address?”

“Thank you for caring enough to call.”

“Keep in mind that we are all state employees, too. It is in all of our best interests to work together to resolve these issues in a manner that meets the requirements of state statute.”

“I understand you are concerned, and I’m happy to take a message for the Senator, but I must ask you to refrain from swearing at (or threatening) me. Now, let me start by getting your name_____________.”

If a caller won’t give you a name, tell them you cannot take anonymous messages, but thank you for calling.

If you are threatened, note the specific time & caller ID if possible, so that can be traced if necessary.

Senate leaders urge governor to call council meeting today

Republican leadership in the Senate is saying Gov. Kathleen Sebelius should receive a bill to cut this years budget this afternoon.

They are urging the Democratic governor to call a State Finance Council meeting later today.

On Monday, a scheduled meeting of the council didn’t happen after the governor and GOP Legislative leaders disagreed about proposal by the governor to allow the state to borrow $225 million from itself to temporarily pay bills.

The disagreement means that state employees may not get paid Friday, state income tax refunds are on hold as are Medicaid payment to providers such as doctors and hospitals.

Below is the release from Senate leadership:

TOPEKA – Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, and Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, issued a statement encouraging Governor Kathleen Sebelius to review the budget bill that will reach her desk by noon today and to call a State Finance Council meeting for later in the afternoon to address the state’s budget needs.

In a joint statement, the Senate Republican leaders said:

“We are pleased to announce that the budget-balancing bill will be in the governor’s hands by noon today.

“The governor’s decision yesterday to cancel the scheduled meeting of the State Finance Council has caused concern for many Kansans. We encourage her to call a finance council meeting later today so that taxpayers can get their refunds and state employees can be paid on time.”

The bill passed last week by the Kansas Legislature was expedited through the exacting printing, enrolling and proofing process to get a copy into the Governor’s hands as soon as possible.

Governor sends message to state employees

123008sebelius_br12Here is the text of a letter Gov. Kathleen Sebelius sent to state employees on Wednesday. It was provided through Wichita State University.

February 17, 2009 Colleagues, This is a difficult time for Kansas families, seniors and many others who are dealing each day with the economic challenges presented by the recession. As a state employee, I know that you are already dealing with the challenges of more limited resources in your agency.

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Sebelius heads to D.C. – as the governor

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is heading to Washington D.C. this weekend for the National Governor’s Association.

The associations’ winter meeting will include a dinner at the White House and meetings with cabinet heads.

Sebelius, a Democrat, is rumored to be on the short list of candidates to head Health and Human Services. But she doesn’t expect any change will come before this weekend.

“Not that I know if in any way shape or form, I intend to go as the Governor of Kansas,” Sebelius said Tuesday morning when asked if she was anticipating changing positions.