Author Archives: David Klepper

Kansas House votes to cut spending on schools, pay for top officials

The Kansas House voted to reduce state spending on schools this school year and cut the pay of top state workers Tuesday.

The move would eliminate a deficit of $50 million in the current year budget and give lawmakers $37 million in surplus funds to begin addressing next year’s $500 million deficit. The proposal, HB 2014, now moves to the Senate, which is already working on its own version of the bill.

Lawmakers called the bill a spending freeze, though it would actually cut funds for schools by $75 per pupil this school year.

It would also cut the pay of top state workers by 7.5 percent for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends June 30. The governor, other elected officials, lawmakers, judges and any employee earning more than $100,000 per year would be affected.

Democrats tried to add funds back in for special education but were stymied by the Republican majority. The final vote on the bill was 81-40, with Democrats and a few Republicans voting no.

Supporters of the cuts argued the state has no alternative but rein in spending after years of declining state revenues.

“We are simply at a point where the chickens have come home to roost,” said Rep. Kasha Kelley, an Arkansas City Republican. “It is not pleasant… no one wants to cut any salaries. We need to right the ship. It is our obligation.”

Brownback team will review state efforts to help economy

Brownback

Brownback

The transition team for Kansas Governor-elect Sam Brownback is meeting with state eco-devo agencies and departments that have some role in the economy to better understand what they’re about to take over. Brownback’s transition team announced a new group, the Economy and Jobs Agency Outreach Team, that will meet with these agencies to get a handle on how well they work. Read More »

Kansas Chamber endorses Brownback

The Kansas Chamber of Commerce PAC made it official Friday morning, issuing a strong endorsement of retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback  in the race for Kansas governor.

In these tough times, Kansas needs a governor and lieutenant governor who understand the solution to the state’s financial difficulties is to grow the Kansas economy,” said Chamber President and CEO Kent Beisner in a statement released after the Wichita announcement. “Sam Brownback and (runningmate) Jeff Colyer have pledged to freeze state general fund spending and take the steps necessary to balance the state budget in a responsible manner, just like Kansas businesses and families.”

Brownback’s Democratic opponent, state Sen. Tom Holland, said earlier in the race that he wouldn’t even seek the chamber’s nod.

The chamber has come under fire from Democrats — and even some former members — for its aggressive opposition to any type of tax increase amid the state’s budget crisis.

Nineteen local chambers of commerce broke with the state chamber over the question of the recent sales tax increase passed by the Legislature. And J.E. Dunn Construction — one of the chamber’s largest members — split earlier this year after executives at the company decided the chamber’s agenda was too narrow.

Earhart may finally land in U.S. Capitol

earhart2After 11 years, it looks like Kansas native Amelia Earhart may take her place in the U.S. Capitol.

Back in 1999 the state Legislature decided to replace its existing statues in the Statuary with Amelia Earhart and Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower took his place in 2003, but for some reason, the statue of Earhart was never commissioned.

The Statuary Hall collection includes two statues from each state. The Sunflower State’s current representatives are Eisenhower and John J. Ingalls, former U.S. snator, early Kansas statesman and freestater.

But a group advocating gender equality — Equal Visibility Everywhere — didn’t forget about the pioneering aviator from Atchison. EVE lobbied Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson, who signed a request this month that was delivered to the U.S. Capitol Architect.

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Roberts officially endorses Moran in Senate race

Moran

Moran

Roberts

Roberts

TOPEKA — Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts officially endorsed his old friend Jerry Moran in the race to fill Kansas’ other Senate seat Monday.

“We need Jerry Moran in the U.S. Senate to help us stand up and fight,” Roberts said during a joint appearance with Moran in the Kansas Senate chambers. “I’m going to be proud to serve the people of Kansas side-by-side with Jerry.”

Moran, of Hays, beat U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt, a Goddard Republican, to win the GOP nomination earlier this month after a bitter primary battle. He faces Democrat Lisa Johnston, Libertarian Michael William Dann and Reform Party candidate Joe Bellis in the Nov. 2 election. The winner will succeed Sam Brownback, who is leaving the Senate to run for governor.

Roberts’ endorsement is hardly a shocker. But Moran said he was delighted to have the support of a man he called a “long-time mentor.” The two men first met 36 years ago.

“I’ve never calculated how many votes Pat is worth,” he said of the endorsement, before casting a glance at Roberts. “But in his presence, I would tell you millions.”

Tiahrt wins Olathe GOP straw poll

Tiahrt

Tiahrt

Olathe Republicans endured the humidity Saturday to come out and meet candidates for this fall’s elections.

In between hot dogs, candidate stump speeches and a Patrick Henry impersonator, the 800 or so Republicans who braved the heat cast ballots in a straw poll. Todd Tiahrt won big over Jerry Moran in the U.S. Senate straw poll, 315 to 112. Kris Kobach easily dispatched his more moderate opponent, Libby Ensley, 298 to 98, with 25 votes for J.R. Claeys.

And for president in 2012? Sarah Palin all the way.

House coalition backing budget that spends more, requires tax increase

A coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans hijacked the Kansas House this morning, successfully gutting the budget favored by House GOP leaders and replacing it with their own plan.

The new proposal spends more than the earlier one, and will require a tax increase to balance. It’s similar to the budget proposal passed earlier by the Senate. Both give schools more money to offset the loss of federal stimulus funds set to expire next year, and both attempt to restore some social service funds cut last year.

The vote to remove the budget proposal favored by House leadership was 71-49.

Judging from the votes, the coalition has the numbers to pass a tax increase to fund their budget. Last night the Senate passed a 1-cent sales tax hike, and it’s likely the House will consider that plan soon.

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House considers budget, looks to tax increase

CashRegisterIs a  tax increase inevitable in Kansas?

Some anti-tax lawmakers seem to think so.

“We know the die is cast this morning,” said Rep. Arlen Siegfreid, an Olathe Republican. “We know the votes are there.”

Last night the state Senate passed a 1-cent sales tax hike, a package that will raise $314 million in annual revenue to balance the state budget. It would cost the average Kansas family $266 a year.

The legislation now moves to the House. Passage would solve the budget crisis (for a few months anyway) and likely end the session. Read More »

Budget debate starts, stops in House

Kansas capitalNot much got done today in the Kansas House, which started, and then delayed, another debate on another budget proposal.

This proposal comes from Democrats and moderate Republicans, who united earlier in the week to defeat a plan supported by conservative Republicans.

The debate started in earnest at about 3 p.m. Soon, House Appropriations Chairman Kevin Yoder, an Overland Park Republican, and Rep. Bill Feuerborn, a Garnett Democrat and the lead author of the proposal, began a spirited back-and-forth about the details of the proposal.

And then at 5 p.m. the House adjourned until 9 a.m. Friday without casting a vote. Some lawmakers wanted to attend the funeral of a lawmaker’s mother tonight.

The debate will continue Friday.

Kline ethics hearing postponed until fall

A hearing on a legal ethics complaint filed against former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline has been postponed until Nov. 15.

The hearing had been scheduled for next month. The Supreme Court announced the change Thursday, saying Kline’s team of attorneys wasn’t available until fall.

Kline, who served as Johnson County DA after he left the AG’s office, faces allegations that he disobeyed the Kansas Supreme Court, misled judges and withheld information from a grand jury.

In a formal response released Thursday, Kline denied any wrongdoing. Kline now teaches law at a university in Virginia.

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