Bad year for oak mites in Kansas

From 12 News in Wichita

People on college campuses across Kansas and now entire neighborhoods in Wichita are all complaining about the same thing: tons of mysterious, itchy bug bites. Often mistaken for a mosquito or spider bite, these bites are coming from a tiny bug called an oak mite.

The microscopic bugs live in oak trees and experts say because Kansas got so much rain this summer, this might be the worst season for mites in the past decade.

Because the bugs fall out of the trees directly onto people, repellants or bug sprays won’t keep them away. If the mite lands on you and bites you, it then burrows into your skin. Many who have been bitten say these bug bites last much longer than a mosquito bite and are very annoying.

“I would even wake up in the middle of the night and I was scratching myself,” said Karolina Mosa, who has been bitten several times while out running in Wichita.

To read the entire article and watch the video, click here.

Doubts grow about Kansas’ tax plan

By The Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. — Doubts grew among Kansas legislators Tuesday about whether they can approve tax increases necessary to balance the state budget without deep spending cuts that could lead to more-crowded classrooms and even layoffs of prison guards.

Three Senate and three House negotiators canceled a second consecutive day of public talks on tax issues. The Republican-dominated Senate approved a bill Sunday that would raise sales and cigarette taxes to help raise $423 million during the fiscal year beginning July 1, but members of the GOP-controlled House doubt it can pass their chamber. Continue reading

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

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.”

Other views…

Kansas and public education funding

From the New York Times

By DAVID SCIARRA
and WADE HENDERSON

January 7, 2014

KANSAS, like every state, explicitly guarantees a free public education in its Constitution, affirming America’s founding belief that only an educated citizenry can preserve democracy and safeguard individual liberty and freedom.

And yet in recent years Kansas has become the epicenter of a new battle over the states’ obligation to adequately fund public education. Even though the state Constitution requires that it make “suitable provision” for financing public education, Gov. Sam Brownback and the Republican-led Legislature have made draconian cuts in school spending, leading to a lawsuit that now sits before the state Supreme Court. Continue reading

Height of arrogance

KanCare officials need well crafted charm offensive

By FINN M. BULLERS
Freelance writer/editor

When a holiday guest enters your home, social etiquette Midwestern style demands your best manners — maybe a welcoming cup of pretty-strong coffee and most certainly a Scandinavian sweet.

So it came as a simple case of bad manners — not to mention poor public image creation — when for-profit, managed-care officials in Kansas snarled at “East Coast” interlopers who in December had the audacity to “parachute” into the Topeka prairie to lecture them on how to improve the care of 380,000 Kansans. Continue reading

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