Daily Archives: June 9, 2013

Four years later and no new coal plant

One of the first acts of Gov. Mark Parkinson’s brief administration was a May 2009 deal to allow an 895-megawatt coal-fired power plant to be built near Holcomb. The agreement, which ended a nasty political fight, also led to long-sought clean-energy initiatives in Kansas including a renewable portfolio standard. That RPS lives on, surviving an attempted legislative rollback just this year. But the power plant remains unbuilt and recently took another legal blow, when a three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected Sunflower Electric Power Corp.’s request to overturn a lower court ruling that had stalled the plant’s construction. Now, Sunflower CEO Stuart Lowry told the Garden City Telegram, “the question will be whether or not additional approvals will be required and, if so, what the scope of the environmental impact study will be.” There are other legal hurdles. And after four years it’s fair to wonder whether the plant will ever be financed and built, or whether the market for the power still exists. But Lowry argued: “The cost to date and the foreseeable cost are clearly outweighed by the benefits, even today.”

Medicaid expansion would help mentally ill, state budget

It’s shameful that Gov. Sam Brownback and the Legislature have yet to allow a federal expansion of Medicaid, even though the expansion would bring needed health insurance to about 150,000 Kansans, inject more than $3 billion into the state’s economy, help stabilize funding to hospitals, and actually save the state money. One reason the state could save money is that it currently helps pay for mental health care for people who are uninsured. A new report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that more than 21,000 uninsured Kansans who have mental illness would be covered by expanded Medicaid. “Expanding Medicaid will help people living with a mental illness get back to work,” Rick Cagan, executive director for NAMI Kansas, told the Kansas Health Institute News Service. “It will help them recover and become more productive. It’s the most important step our state can take right now.” It’s also a step that Brownback keeps putting off.

So they said

“Under the leadership of House Speaker Ray Merrick and Senate President Susan Wagle, the 2013 Legislature worked hard on behalf of their constituents and accomplished a great deal. This session will forever be remembered as the one that turned the state around the corner on the road to prosperity.” – Gov. Sam Brownback (in photo), in a statement

“Under this budget, the Kansas Department of Parks and Wildlife and the Department of Corrections will have the same motto: ‘catch and release.’” – Sen. Greg Smith, R-Olathe

“House budget bill is a huge blow to higher education in Kansas. If these cuts hold they will be devastating to excellence and accessibility.” – Kansas State University president Kirk Schulz, on Twitter

“We see numbers all the time floating around here. That’s what they say it is. I’m not sure that I necessarily believe that.” – Rep. Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, questioning the universities’ claims on the cuts’ effects

“#Ksleg wasted an entire session trying to fix a law that #Brownback never should’ve signed. So many lost opportunities.” – House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, tweeting about the aftermath of 2012 tax cuts