Daily Archives: Jan. 5, 2010

Newest Goyle is a girl

Ana Kumari Goyle

Ana Kumari Goyle

State representative and congressional candidate Raj Goyle, D-Wichita, is now a father.

At 11:57 p.m. New Year’s Eve, Goyle’s wife, Monica, delivered Ana Kumari Goyle.

The baby weighed five pounds, nine ounces at birth and was 18.5 inches long.

The announcement and baby pictures went out today in an e-mail to campaign supporters and on Goyle’s Facebook page.

“We spent New Year’s Day in the hospital and are now resting comfortably at home, changing diapers and getting to know our little bundle of joy,” Goyle said in the e-mail.

Operation Rescue seeks ‘truth truck’ drivers

Jobs are hard to come by these days, so we imagine there might be some out-of-work truck drivers willing to consider this opportunity:

Operation Rescue is looking to pay the expenses of anyone willing to drive a “truth truck” in Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsyl-vania and/or Oklahoma. Truth trucks, remember, sport pictures of aborted fetuses and are used by OR to bring attention to their efforts against abortion.

“We are looking for respon-sible individuals with excel-lent driving records who can drive large paneled trucks fea-turing graphic images of aborted babies in any of these four states,” reads the ad from Operation Rescue.

Operation Rescue is plan-ning protest trips to those states to pressure Democratic members of Congress “not to compromise on taxpayer-funded abortion in the loom-ing health care bill,” according to OR.

Cuts for elderly: more seniors to nursing homes, $1.37 million in federal funds lost

Kennedy

Kennedy

Cuts in state services for the aging could force hundreds of elderly Kansans out of their homes and into nursing institutions, officials said today.

The state Department on Aging announced that as of Jan. 15, it is cutting several services it provides through Home and Community Based Service waivers, including aides who stay with elderly people overnight and assistance in retrofitting homes for wheelchair accessibility.

The department will give up about $1.37 million in federal matching funds because it can no longer afford to pay the state’s share of $625,000 to provide the services, said spokeswoman Barb Conant.

The service cuts announced today include:

  • Assistive technology support — a program that helps seniors obtain items such as wheelchair lifts and ramps, accessible toilets and bathtubs, and grab bars to help prevent falls.

  • Sleep-cycle support — provides aides for seniors who need to have someone in their home during overnight hours.

  • Comprehensive support — provides aides to assist seniors who are cognitively impaired with tasks such as reading mail, addressing letters and paying bills.

  • Dental services — provides seniors with dental care to help them receive proper nutrition and avoid issues with breathing and pneumonia.

Both Conant and Annette Graham, director of Sedgwick County’s Department on Aging, said the service cuts could force seniors out of their current homes.

The cuts could be “enough to no longer make that (home) a safe place to stay,” Graham said. “Often, the option would be a nursing home.”

All of the 550 Kansas seniors affected by the service cuts are eligible for nursing care, Conant said. It could not immediately be determined how many will have to move.

“We know these are services that many Kansas seniors rely upon to stay in their homes, but we can’t continue to provide them and stay within our budget,” Martin Kennedy, acting secretary of the Department on Aging, said in a statement. “However, we’ll continue to monitor expenditures and restore these services if conditions allow.”

Conant said her department has determined that nursing care generally costs the government about three times as much as serving elderly people in their homes.

But under federal law, nursing home care is considered an entitlement for the frail elderly, while home and community services are optional and contingent on state funding.

Physically and developmentally disabled Kansans have faced similar issues since last year when cuts began in their waiver programs.

In a pilot program, Vermont renegotiated its contract with the federal government to make home and community services an entitlement. By reducing the number of residents in government-paid nursing care, the state was able to save millions of dollars and serve substantially more people with the same budget.

The Kansas Legislature has not seriously considered such a plan.

The cuts for the aging come at a particularly poor time for Sedgwick County, which is in the midst of an ongoing program to find ways for seniors to “age in place.”

In June, Sedgwick County was one of four communities nationwide selected to hold workshops on ways communities can be redesigned to help elderly residents remain in their homes and out of nursing care.

State Senators Vratil and Kelly propose creating a “rainy day fund”

TOPEKA – Two state Senators have proposed amending the state constitution to require that lawmakers set aside money when Kansas is flush with cash.

Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, and Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, unveiled a proposal Tuesday that would automatically set aside up to 1 percent of state revenues in years when the state’s funds increase by more than 3 percent.

“It’s smart personal finance to set aside money for times when revenue is short,” said Vratil, who is vice-chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

The amendment would require the state to collect up to 7.5 percent of the total state general revenue, which currently would equal about $465 million, Kelly said.

Over the past year, lawmakers and the governor have had to cut about $1 billion from the current budget, which began July 1.

That was after the state had depleted about $1 billion in cash reserves the Kansas had built up over several years.

A rainy day fund would have helped lessen some of the more recent cuts, the senators said.

Lawmakers would be able to tap into the fund only when state collected less money than it had the year prior.

To amend the state constitution, the resolution would have to pass by a two-thirds majority in both chambers – 84 votes in the House and 27 in the Senate. The measure would then go on the Nov. 2010 general election ballot for Kansas voters to weigh in on.

For more, read Wednesday’s Wichita Eagle.