Monthly Archives: February 2012

Report: Income tax cuts could result in job losses

TOPEKA – If reducing income taxes in Kansas requires big cuts in state spending, it would kill more jobs than it would create, according to a report commissioned by the Kansas Economic Progress Council.

That’s because a lot of government spending initially stays in the state economy as salary to employees and spending on contracts with local vendors. But when people get to keep more of their money, they often quickly send it out of state by buying non-Kansas goods or avoiding taxes by buying online, the study says.

“There’s no question that cutting taxes increases economic activity,” said the report’s author, John Wong, a former Wichita State University professor who is now chair of Urban and Public Leadership at the University of North Texas at Dallas. “But by reducing the rate, you’re also reducing the money coming in. It’s just whether the additional economic activity is sufficient to overcome the loss in money from the rate.”

That’s unlikely, he said.

The analysis comes as a dozens of tax reduction plans circulate the Statehouse, including Gov. Sam Brownback’s heavily-criticized proposal to reduce individual income tax rates and eliminate several popular deductions and credits. Read More »

Brownback picks former legislator Phyllis Gilmore to replace Siedlecki as SRS secretary

Gov. Sam Brownback announces Phyllis Gilmore, left, as his choice to lead SRS.

TOPEKA — Gov. Sam Brownback today announced he has picked former Johnson County legislator Phyllis Gilmore to serve as secretary of the Department of Social and Rehabilitative Services.

Gilmore has been executive director of the Kansas Behavioral Sciences Regulator Board, which licenses and regulates mental health professionals, for more than 11 years. She is also a licensed social worker, Brownback’s administration said. The Senate Confirmation Oversight Committee will debate whether to recommend the appointment to the full Senate, which will probably vote on Gilmore’s appointment within about a month.

The move comes about a month and a half after embattled former SRS Secretary Rob Siedlecki announced he would step down to return to Florida. Wichitan Jeff Kahrs has been serving as acting director since Siedlecki left.

Gilmore said she has no plans to undo any of the policy changes made by Siedlecki, including a move that cut off U.S. citizen children of illegal immigrants from food stamps.

Gilmore served as a House Republican lawmaker from 1995 to 2000.

In 1998, Gilmore introduced a bill to allow covenant marriages, which make getting a divorce more difficult.

Gilmore donated a kidney to her sister in the early 1980s.

Brownback plans to reorganize several agencies, folding SRS into a new agency called the Department for Children and Families.

Blue Cross bows out of state Medicaid contract competition; Rep. Ward seeks annual audits

The state’s largest insurer has decided it doesn’t want to participate in Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to move Medicaid patients into privatized managed-care programs.

And in a related action, Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, introduced a bill today that would require annual audits to ensure that privatization doesn’t lead to reductions in benefits for Medicaid recipients.

In a letter addressed “Dear provider,” Angie Strecker, director of institutional relations for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, said the insurer “has decided not to submit a proposal to the state to be a Medicaid contractor.”

Blue Cross, a mutual insurance company owned by its customers, covers 880,000 Kansans and operates in all Kansas counties except for Wyandotte and Johnson. In 2010, the company processed more than 16 million claims worth more than $2 billion.

The letter said Blue Cross had devoted significant staff and resources to analyzing the state’s request for proposals. Read More »

Senate approves longer permits for drinking at special events

TOPEKA — The Senate today approved a bill pushed by the city of Wichita to provide longer-duration permits for alcohol consumption in public places.

It lets the director of Alcoholic Beverage Control grant temporary special event permits for up to 30 days, on top of the three day permits allowed under current law. It gives Wichita Festivals Inc, which produces the Wichita River Festival, more flexibility to produce other events where alcoholic beverages are served.

The bill faced no opposition. Now it heads to the House for debate.