It is good to be home for a few weeks to reconnect with normalcy. We call this a break, but I have numerous responsibilities with my committee assignments
The Bob Bethell KanCare Oversight Committee will meet all day in Topeka on April 19th.
The Appropriations Committee is touring Osawatomie State Hospital on April 26th, and we meet to work on the budget April 27 & 28.
I’ll return to Topeka on May 1st for the Veto Session as we finalize the next year’s budget, school finance, and tax reform to pay for it.
Earlier this week, Craig and I celebrated 30 years as Beloitians!
Around the District Meanwhile, it is the time of year for townhalls:
Please join me for a public forum in Bennington at Linger Longer on April 20, 10:30 am, following a visit at Ottawa County High School at 9:00 am.
Congressman Roger Marshall will be in Beloit Thursday morning and Concordia Rotary for lunch.
I enjoyed attending the combined Rotary/Lions Club in Beloit as a guest of Bob Lampert. The program was an update from Senator Moran.
It was a pleasure to welcome the Tipton Catholic High School students at the Capitol.
It was also great to welcome my son and his vet school friends: Curtis Concannon, Maxwell Beal, Andrew Hyslop and John Neeck.
In the News Current Year Budget
The House and Senate agreed on a compromise and sent the rescission bill to the governor. It relies on diverting funds from the Pooled Money Investment Board, but I was willing to vote for a one-time fix for a few reasons:
I didn’t create this mess, so if the least bad of awful choices keeps us operating in the black until June 30, I’ll hold my nose. And then I’ll work to make the budget I CAN impact a more stable one,
The bill avoided further K-12 cuts, and
Reinstated the state’s contribution to KPERS.
Jargon Alert: Rescission – to rescind, to take back.
Since actual revenues came in a few hundred million below the estimates on which the budget was created, we had to reconcile the difference and make current-year cuts to balance the budget.
School Finance Progress
After two days of delays, the House K-12 Education Budget Committee finalized amendments and the cost for an education bill (Sub HB 2410) on Wednesday. The bill is virtually the same as I described last week, with the funding portion ironed out with the base aid per pupil as follows:
$4,006 for 2017-18
$4,206 for 2018-19
$4,406 for 2019-20
$4,606 for 2020-21
$4,806 for 2021-22
Beginning in school year 2022-23 and for each school year thereafter, the base aid will increase in accordance with the Consumer Price Index - Midwest
Other changes of note since last week:
The bill allows schools to pay utility bills with money from their capital outlay fund, which is levied separately from general operating expenses.
The Local Option Budget will now be called the Local Foundation Budget (LFB) because it no longer serves as extra-and-optional funding, but is a critical component of funding the core functions of our schools.
More than 30% of districts are already maxed out to the 33% level, but for those which aren’t, the bill allows their boards of education to make that call, with the opportunity for a protest petition by voters in the district if they oppose the move.
This is a total of $750 million over five years, with flexibility built into the formula to address inflationary challenges. For the coming fiscal year which begins July 1, our districts will see this in the way of Base Aid for Student Excellence (BASE) from the state, and local foundation budget:
Concordia School District
Local Foundation Budget: -$4,505
Southern Cloud School District
Local Foundation Budget: $75,453
Waconda School District
Local Foundation Budget: $10,913
Beloit School District
Local Foundation Budget: $92,597
Lincoln School District
Local Foundation Budget: $6,782
Local Foundation Budget: -$44,453
If the education policy wonk in you is dying for more information – it’s available! Our state Department of Education is an amazing resource of brilliant researchers: KSDE resource site
On the Floor Uncork “Lite”
Current law allows “full-strength” beer, wine, and spirits to be sold only at liquor stores. Grocery and convenience stores are only allowed to sell 3.2% alcohol-by-volume (ABV) beer. SB 13 would allow convenience, grocery and drug stores to sell alcohol with a 6% ABV. This compromise would keep wine and spirits only at liquor stores. The House approved this bill, 80-45, I voted NO to protect our local businesses. The Senate agreed with changes made in the House and the bill is on its way to the governor. If signed, it will go into effect April 1, 2019.
The House also passed 103-21 a bill (HB 2180) that increases the fee paid by KanCare management companies and some insurance policies to 5.77% from the current 3.31%. That would raise money to leverage more federal Medicaid payments to the state which will allow lawmakers to restore last year's 4% payment cuts to health-care providers under the KanCare program. I voted YES. The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration, or it could be amended into a conference committee report.
You’re likely familiar with the tragic death of my colleague, Rep. Scott Schwab’s son, Caleb, at the Schlitterbahn Water Park. As a result, H Sub for SB 70 would amend the Kansas Amusement Ride Act and the Amusement Ride Insurance Act to require additional registration, fees, and reporting for owners of rides, set standards for inspections, and requirements for ride inspectors. The House approved this legislation, 124-1. The Senate approved its version, 39-1. A conference committee will work out the differences between the bills. I voted YES. You can read committee testimony here.
HB 2235 would require retailers who do not collect Kansas sales and use taxes to provide records of untaxed Kansas sales to the state. In addition, retailers who do not collect Kansas sales and use taxes would be required to notify Kansas purchasers that sales and use tax are due on all purchases made from retailers who are not exempt from charging sales tax. The House approved this bill, 104-21. I voted YES.
I will keep you posted and look forward to any questions or comments you might have on this or other legislative issues.