Big part of Brownback’s budget plan is in trouble

By John Hana
Associated Press

An $80 million piece of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan for balancing Kansas’ next budget is in trouble because a major health insurance company opposes it.

“The bill overall is in trouble,” House Insurance Committee Chairman Scott Schwab, an Olathe Republican, said Wednesday. “He’s going to have to come up with a different proposal.”

The proposal would increase a fee paid by HMOs to 5.5 percent from 1 percent. The state would use the new revenues to capture additional federal funds for its Medicaid program, which provides health coverage to about 368,000 needy and disabled residents. Continue reading

Supply-side experiment a loser for Kansas

Every year, right after the April 15 tax deadline, the U.S. Census releases its data on the prior year’s state tax collections. It is a fascinating document, filled with great data points for tax and policy wonks. It reveals a good deal about the state of local economies, economic trends and results of specific policies. In broad terms, the financial fortunes of the states are improving…

There are some truly fascinating data points in the report…

Let’s focus on Kansas, because of all the states its tax data reflects conscious policy choices as opposed to larger economic forces, such as falling oil prices. Continue reading

Report: Lobbyists given early look at state budget plans

By The Associated Press

Two lobbyists with past ties to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback received a preview of his proposals for balancing the state budget in an email from his budget director through a private account weeks before Brownback formally outlined the measures for legislators, The Wichita Eagle reported Tuesday.

The Eagle (http://bit.ly/1zsuejP) obtained a copy of Budget Director Shawn Sullivan’s email, sent Dec. 23 through his Yahoo account. Among the recipients were lobbyists David Kensinger and Mark Dugan. Continue reading

Other views:

Brownback turns his back on 400,000 disabled Kansans

BY Finn Bullers
Freelance Writer

Under a vibrant, sunny Tuesday sky, you could almost imagine that the sun was indeed shining in Kansas — just like the never-ending GOP political TV commercials suggest.

Almost.

At the podium dead center in the hub of all things affluent Johnson County, stands Gov. Sam Brownback, his poll numbers trailing Democrat challenger Paul Davis by slightly more than the margin of error.

Brownback’s dark blazer and khaki pants sends the message he’s serious, but not as serious as the dark suits flanking him, all seeking a moment in the spotlight of this absurdist political theater troupe prepping to get their GOP boss re-elected for another four years. Continue reading

Statement from Brownback

Submitted by Bob Montgomery

Gov. Sam Brownback issued the following statement in response to proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations on energy producers.
“A recent study conducted by the Kansas Corporation Commission has shown that Kansas homeowners, schools, and businesses are already paying an extra $227 million a year to pay for President Obama’s overregulation of energy producers, an increase of 9.4 percent since 2007. 

“Today’s news that the EPA will be imposing even more expensive regulations on Kansas utilities, and doing so without approval from Congress, is very troubling as it further disrupts the balance that must be achieved between protecting the environment and growing the economy,” Brownback said.

“Furthermore, these regulations will continue to raise the cost of living for every Kansan, making the burden on those who are already struggling to pay their bills each month unnecessarily more difficult.  Kansas has been working hard to do its part to protect the environment by supporting clean coal technologies at the new plant in Holcomb, as well as diversifying our energy portfolio with wind and natural gas. 

“This is more of the Obama Administration’s war against middle America…more cost and more regulation.  We need Kansas solutions for Kansans.”

Opinion: KanCare bully beats up disabled

For-profit, managed-care smackdown puts Rocky on the ropes

By FINN M. BULLERS
Freelance writer/editor

Remember the final minutes of Rocky II?

It’s post Bicentennial America. And the country still is in search of patriotic themes and underdog dreams. Actors Sylvester Stallone and Carl Weathers deliver in the second of six feel-good boxing thrillers that altogether grossed more than $1 billion.

In the end, both Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed pummel each other in 15 rounds of bone-crushing, sweat-flying body blows until both fall to the mat in utter exhaustion.

Flash forward: It’s 2014 Topeka, Kansas, home of the KanCare political boxing championship. Two equally matched contenders have squared off in the first of what appears to be a long-running series of equally bloody bouts.

In one corner wearing patriotic satin trunks is underdog disability civil rights advocate Rocky Nichols with the Big Tent Coalition, an alliance of dozens of advocacy groups and home- and community-based service providers. Continue reading

It’s time to rise up

‘Expand Kansas Medicaid’ rally Feb. 17, Topeka

By FINN M. BULLERS
Freelance writer/editor

A broad coalition of sunflower state disability advocates and supporters have joined forces to “Expand Medicaid in Kansas,” a Feb. 17 rally at 2 p.m. at the state Capitol rotunda in Topeka. Organizers hope to attract more than 100 supporters.

The goal is simple: Present a unified force of Kansas disability rights advocates and supporters to send Gov. Sam Brownback and state legislators a clear message that it is critical to expand Medicaid during this legislative session.

The group will meet just before 2 p.m. in the rotunda of the state Capitol. State legislators will give health care policy updates. KanCare recipients negatively affected by the state’s experimental, for-profit managed care initiative — including Finn Bullers of Kansas City who fought the state to have his caregiver hours restored — will address the rally. Continue reading

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