March 28, 2011 2011 Legislative Update – #11
With the deadline for the full House to debate bills last Wednesday, floor action by the House reached a peak this week with the House spending long hours considering and passing over fifty bills. When the Legislature convenes, it will be the seventieth day of the session which is limited by the state constitution to ninety days. This coming week is the last week the Legislature will meet before the veto session which begins April 27th.
The “big” debate this week will be on the FY2012 budget developed by the House Appropriations Committee. With one week left in the session neither the House or the Senate have passed a budget. If budgets don’t gain House & Senate approval, respectively, by the end of the regular session, the House Appropriations committee will have to continue to meet to find a compromise budget. When legislators sign the oath of office, we agree to uphold the Kansas Constitution and that is to pass and fund a budget.
HB2383 – The House proposal – $59.9 Million under the Governor’s proposed Budget
The Governor proposed cuts to overall spending but entitlements forced him to add $309.6 million to the SGF budget to fund health and human services caseload and home and community based services. Once the State had agreed to use Federal Stimulus dollars two years ago, this tied the State to maintain the increased service levels as a part of this agreement. Sounds complicated, however at the time it looked like a windfall to stabilize the bad economy and the money was used to supplant State funding rather than make the hard decisions to reduce funding at that time.
The House Appropriations Committee has been working for the past three months to find further reductions. The committee has adopted numerous reductions to reach an additional $78.8 million in additional savings and $954 million in all fund cuts. A number of these reductions have been painful and hard to support when the ramifications to these proposals have not been well thought out. HB2383 is a compromise bill; some think we didn’t cut enough, while others thought we cut too much. Below are some of the major reductions included in the House proposal;
? 15% overall reduction of State General Funding (SGF) of Kansas Health and Environment -$2.69 million
? Maintain SRS foster care contracts at FY2011 rates – $2.8 million
? Delete all dues and subscriptions for FY2012 that are paid for with SGF dollars – $5.3 million
? 5% cut overall to SRS excluding waivers and caseloads – $10 million
? Reduce IT expenditures state wide by 10% – $8.6 million
? Increase employee contribution of health insurance by an additional 5% surcharge effective Jan. 1, 2013 -$3.1 million in savings for six months in FY2012
? Strike $5 million from a Air Fares Program
? Reduce issuance of cell phones by half – $1.96 million
? 7.5% salary cut for state officers and all other employees making in excess of $100,000. Employees who earn less than $40,000 would receive no salary reduction but those making more would be subjected to a reduction base on a sliding scale – $24.1 million
? Delete $778,518 from the Judicial Performance Review commission
? Reduce the municipal university operating grant by ½ – $5.5 million This affects Washburn University.
There were several more cost-cutting amendments that were offered and failed.
The Economic Growth Act stalled in Senate – This measure that was supported by the majority of the House would provide for reductions in individual and corporation income tax rates beginning in tax year 2012 based on the extent to which a certain group of tax sources had increased over FY201. Last Monday the President of the Senate a Senate Rule to declare the proposal “materially altered. This procedural move was to prevent the bill from being assigned to a conference committee to negotiate a compromise. I am disappointed at this effort to avoid or delay discussion on the measure and look forward to an opportunity to approve meaningful tax policy forward this year.
Immigration Legislation – The House Judiciary Committee failed to reach consensus and voted to table HB2372 . There was an attempt to move the bill out of committee but the motion was defeated on a 84 to 40 vote. This means the process on immigration reform will continue to be discussed in committee. While most believe that immigration reform is necessary, it is a complex issue that the State needs to carefully weigh facts before it develops possible reforms that won’t end up costing the State more than it will benefit.
As always, I am honored to serve as your state representative in Topeka and dedicate myself to serving you. I sincerely value your opinion. Your ideas count! Please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Rep. Sharon Schwartz 785/296-7637 Sharon.Schwartz@house.ks.gov