KDP Weekly Rundown #1

Friday, March 22, 2019

Welcome to the first KDP Weekly Rundown – the Kansas Democratic Party’s update of the biggest things going on in the Kansas Legislature. What are we focused on this week? School finance, Medicaid expansion, and more!

K-12 SCHOOL FUNDING

  • What’s happening?

SB 142 is Gov. Laura Kelly’s school finance plan. It has three goals: adequately fund our public schools, address the needs of our students, and to resolve the Gannon litigation. Based on recommendations from the Kansas Department of Education, this bill is supported by the Kansas Association of School Boards. It’s a good faith effort to invest adequately in our public schools while also maintaining the stability of the state’s budget.

  • What’s next?

The bill passed out of the Senate last week on a 32-8 vote and has been introduced in the House. The House K-12 Education Budget Committee held a public hearing on the bill last Tuesday.

FEDERAL TAXES

  • What’s happening?

SB 22 is an attempt to detach Kansas’ tax system from federal rules. It’s a fiscally irresponsible bill that only benefits big businesses, multinational corporations, and high-income earners. Gov. Kelly has presented a balanced budget tackling our most urgent priorities and rebuilding our state savings without raising taxes. If Republican lawmakers keep pushing legislation like SB 22, they’ll once again force Kansas into a self-inflicted budget crisis impacting our schools, highway program, children, and fragile state economy.

  • What’s next?

This bill passed the Senate on a 26-14 vote and the House on a 76-43 vote. If Gov. Kelly vetoes the bill, the Legislature doesn’t appear to have the votes necessary to override her decision.

MEDICAID EXPANSION

  • What’s happening?

The House passed HB 2066, legislation approving Gov. Kelly’s Medicaid expansion proposal this week. This bill is expected to expand KanCare – the state’s privatized Medicaid program – to cover at least 130,000 additional Kansans. KanCare expansion is also expected to have a significant economic impact by creating good-paying jobs and protecting rural and urban hospitals and clinics.

  • What’s next?

The House passed Medicaid expansion on final action, 69-54. The bill now heads to the Senate.

KPERS

  • What’s happening?

The Legislature has sent SB 9 to Gov. Kelly’s desk, which would pay for $115 million of the debt accrued by KPERS, the state’s public pension system. KPERS payments have been delayed, layered, or eliminated 15 times in the last nine years. Left unchecked, payments are expected to balloon to almost $1 billion per year in the next 10 years. SB 9 is a step in the right direction, but it’s just the first step toward putting KPERS on a more sustainable path.

  • What’s next?

This bill was signed by Gov. Kelly on Monday. It passed the Senate on a 40-0 vote and the House on a 117-0 vote.

FARM BUREAU BILL

  • What’s happening?

SB 32 is a proposal to allow the Kansas Farm Bureau to offer an unregulated cheap alternative to health insurance. This bill essentially returns us to the days where Kansans with pre-existing conditions could be rejected for coverage or be charged much higher insurance rates. Furthermore, the bill eliminates the oversight provided by the insurance commissioner and forces patients to go it alone in coverage disputes. There are also real concerns that siphoning over 40,000 healthy Kansans out of the current marketplace will destabilize the individual insurance market and shift the burden of healthcare costs onto the very sick.

  • What’s next?

This bill passed the Senate 28-11. The House Insurance Committee held a hearing on the bill on March 6.

CHILD WELFARE

  • What’s happening?

Under the guidance of Acting Secretary Laura Howard, the new leadership team at the Department for Children and Families has implemented several procedures to improve transparency at DCF and address the concerns of Kansans and lawmakers. The legislature must make this agency a priority and provide the needed funding to keep our most vulnerable children safe.

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April 5th, 2019|
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