Daily Archives: March 24, 2009

Senate passes proposed budget

TOPEKA – The Senate passed its budget proposal with few changes after about two hours of debate today.

The chamber added $1.2 million to expand health insurance for Kansas children, deferred pay increases for state employees by one year and added $35,000 back into the budget for agriculture lessons.

The bill, Senate substitute for House Bill 2354, passed 26-14. Earlier in the afternoon, the House gave final approval, 70-54, to its budget proposal, House Bill 2373.

A negotiating committee will work to resolve differences between the bills.

Senate adds money for health insurance for children

TOPEKA – The Senate quickly restored $1.2 million to its budget proposal on Tuesday to help provide health insurance to low- and moderate-income children.

The money will help expand eligibility for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to families making 250 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $55,000 annually for a family of four.

The amendment offered by Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, takes the money from the state’s Children Initiative Fund.

“What better use for the children of this sate than to provide them with health insurance?” Vratil asked.

The additional money will open coverage to about 8,000 more children.

The amendment passed on a voice vote.

The Senate is debating a budget proposal which spends $5.71 billion in state general fund and totals $13.3 billion when all funds are added together.

Sebelius confirmation hearing date still uncertain

No word yet on a hearing date for Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ nomination to become secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Spokesmen for the White House and Senate Finance Committee, which will hold her confirmation hearing, said nothing has been settled. Speculation on Capitol Hill leans to holding it after Congress’ two-week Easter recess.

That would put the hearing off until at least late April. Sebelius has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill to chat up lawmakers.

She would be the last of President Obama’s cabinet picks to be confirmed.

–David Goldstein

Senate expected to debate the budget this afternoon

TOPEKA – The Senate is expected to debate its budget proposal this afternoon.

Monday evening, the House gave initial approval to a proposal that added more than $12 million in spending to a plan that originally spent $5.76 billion in state funds.

Both budgets are for fiscal year 2010, which begins July 1.

The House’s plan included modest cuts to kindergarten through 12th grade education but deeper cuts elsewhere. The Senate’s plan also includes minimal cuts to education.

The Senate’s plan recommends spending $5.71 billion in state funds and would leave $241.1 million in state coffers when fiscal year 2010 ends.

The Senate’s plan current recommends transferring $6.5 million from special revenue funds for doctor training in Wichita.

The Wichita Center for Graduate Medical Education could also receive an additional $6.5 million from federal stimulus funding if the money is available through the Kansas Health Policy Authority under the Senate plan.