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Representative Waymaster's Legislative Update Week 5

FY 2016 & 2017 Supplemental Bill Passes the House

Wednesday, February 10, the House of Representatives debated and amended the supplemental budget bill for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.  Even though we passed the budgets for both of these years during the 2015 session, due to the lower expected revenues that we have been experiencing over the course of the past few months, we needed to make adjustments in order to have a positive balance for the state of Kansas.  In the bill, we did make reductions in spending for the current fiscal year and adjustments for the spending levels in 2017.  By passing this bill, the House now has a position when we do go to conference committee with the Senate, something we did not possess last session.

In this budget measure, we identified in the Appropriations Committee that the Department of Corrections, and namely correctional officers, are understaffed.  The budget bill allows for a 2.5% pay increase for the correctional officers, which is about $2.45 million.  This bill also allows the Kansas Bureau of Investigation to spend already appropriated funds to increase the pay of current employees to remain competitive with law enforcement.  The bill also adds $3 million to address staffing shortages and other issues at Osawatomie and Larned State Hospitals.

Regarding KPERS, this budget bill protects KPERS from across the board cuts, which the governor is allowed to do if balances fall below $100 million.  It does allow the governor the permission to delay a state payment to KPERS only in 2016, however, if there is any delayed payment, it would need to be made in the first three months of fiscal year 2017, plus an 8% interest.  KPERS cannot be subject to allotments in 2017.  Alan Conroy, director of KPERS, said that these changes would not have an actuarial impact on the pension plan.

Other provisions added to the budget bill were that the House added a 19% bonding cap for KDOT, includes a proviso that requires legislative approval if the governor desires privatizing Larned or Osawatomie State Hospitals, and gives the Children’s Cabinet the ability of using federal dollars for Parents As Teachers.  The bill passed, 68-56; I voted “yes.”

Amendment to Protect the University of Kansas Medical Center

Last week, during the discussion with the final budget bill, Representative Marc Rhoades introduced an amendment that would restrict the bonding of regent schools as of July 1, 2015.  If the school(s) do not comply with this amendment, then they would experience an alteration in their finances.  Being that the University of Kansas Hospital Center falls under the auspices of the University of Kansas, they, too, would need to comply with the amendment.  Since the amendment passed in committee, although I voted no because of this very reason, I brought forth an amendment that would exclude the University of Kansas Medical Center.  The medical center must have more fluid financing than the main campus. My amendment passed and was added to House Substitute for Senate Bill 161.

Kansas Supreme Court Rules on Education Funding

This Thursday, hours before the House of Representatives was to vote on the 2016 and 2017 budget bill, the Kansas Supreme court rendered its ruling on education. 

The Supreme Court declared that they found inequities between school districts and that the legislature has not resolved the inequity in funding with the current financing method.  That financing method was passed last year as House Substitute for Senate Bill 7, also known as the Block Grant Funding Bill.  Before the passage of SB 7, for which I voted “No,” the schools in Kansas were funded through a formula that included parameters of funding, for example base state aid per pupil.  With the implementation of SB 7, the formula was dissolved and replaced with the funding of block grants based on the amount of funding each school district received in the prior year.  The funding amount was intended to then be held stable for the next two school years, allowing the legislature to construct a new school finance formula by July 1, 2017.

The court case has been split into two arguments:  Is the overall funding adequate, and is school funding being equitably distributed to districts.  The Supreme Court’s rendering on Thursday only addressed the equity portion of the Gannon case.  The other portion, relating to adequacy, was not determined and oral arguments are scheduled for this spring.

The history behind this case is that a three judge panel ruled that SB 7 did not meet the constitutionality of funding, where the state then appealed to the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court stated that SB 7, “was no more than a freeze on unified school district operational funds for two years.” 

The Supreme Court has now challenged the legislature to draft a new finance formula by June 30, 2016 or if we fail to do that, then it “will mean no constitutionally valid school finance system exists through which funds for 2017 can lawfully be raised, distributed, or spent.”  This decision has just made the 2016 session even more interesting. 

Pages and Contact Information

On Monday, February 8, I had eight students from Russell and Larned serve as pages in the House of Representatives.

Those that served as pages were Ross McNett, Reed McNett, Whitley Leiker, Brooke Leiker, Chloe Leiker, Lacey Nuss, and Ashlyn Long.  They were accompanied by Angela Leiker, Russell, and Jennifer McNett, Larned.

During the pages time here, they took pictures with Governor Sam Brownback, attended the House Session, had lunch, toured the State Capitol, and went to the top of the dome.

If you or someone you know would be interested in being a page, please contact my office and we can make the arrangements.

If you have any concerns, feel free to contact my office at (785) 296-7672, visit www.troywaymaster.com or email me at troy.waymaster@house.ks.gov

The honor to serve you in the 109th Kansas House District and the state of Kansas is one I do not take lightly. Do not hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, concerns and questions.  I appreciate hearing from the residents of the 109th House District and others from the state of Kansas.         

Troy L. Waymaster,

State Representative

109th Kansas House



Paid for by Troy Waymaster for 109th Kansas House, James Malone, Treasurer
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