State talking points


State to appeal ruling on underfunded education

Kansas’ top prosecutor Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced plans to appeal a district court panel ruling that found the state of Kansas isn’t spending enough money on public schools to provide a suitable education, according to Associated Press.

Shortly after announcing the plans to appeal, Schmidt’s office announced it had filed a motion asking for clarification on the ruling. The debate over school funding centers around whether the formula used to determine the amount of funding is outdated or flawed. Schmidt said he doesn’t distinguish between the formula and the funding of the formula.

Tobacco fund to be moved from Kansas Endowment of Youth to state budget, objections heard

Republican Rep. Stephanie Clayton has expressed her objection to Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to use $14.5 million from the Kansas Endowment for Youth to fill part of the $280 million hole in Kansas’ state budget for the current fiscal year, according to Little Apple Post.

The protests were voiced partway through a briefing on revenues from the state’s tobacco master settlement and agreements on how they are spent. In accordance with state statutes, settlement revenues typically between $50 million and $70 million are deposited into the KEY fund.

In the past, most money from the KEY fund is transferred to the Children’s Initiatives Fund, where it’s used to support programs and services promoting early childhood development. That being said, there has been little that has been able to stop lawmakers from using KEY funding to offset projected shortfalls in the state budget. Brownback has proposed a $32 million sweep to take place over the next three years, with $165 million of the KEY fund being used outside of it’s intended purpose from 2001 to now.

“This is a pet peeve of mine – across the board, not just with the KEY fund,” Clayton said. “I feel like we’re lying to the taxpayers. We tell them we’re going to use this money for this purpose, and then we sweep it for something else. I mean, from a transparency, populist, almost-Tea Party perspective, we shouldn’t be sweeping. We shouldn’t be lying.”

House committee working to expand Medicaid

The Vision 2020 House committee is currently working on a proposal to expand Kansas’ Medicaid program to utilize additional federal funding promised by the federal health care reforms.

The state’s current program currently provides health care for the needy and disabled, but it’s annual $3 billion budget doesn’t cover childless adults without disabilities.

Republican Rep. Tom Sloan, committee chairman, said a bill should be drafted within a few weeks.