Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Legislative Report for the Kansas Library Association

Jennie Rose, KLA library legislative liaison sends an advocacy update for each week of the legislative session. This week Jennie reports on the Governor's Budget, Medicaid, meetings of interest for next week, and provides us with a condensed overview of the State Budget process. (Thanks to Gail Santy for bringing this to my attention. --MCA)

2012 Legislative Session: Week Two (January 16 - 20)

Governor’s Tax Proposal, Medicaid Hot Topics of the Week….A number of legislative committees heard further details this week on the Governor’s proposed tax overhaul and KanCare, the managed care proposal designed to bring Medicaid costs under control. Both issues have a significant impact on the FY 2013 budget: lost revenue from the tax proposal, but a savings on Medicaid expenses through KanCare. Legislators heard from the proponents of the tax plan, Secretary of Revenue Nick Jordan and Budget Director Steve Anderson while Lt. Governor Dr. Jeff Colyer; Secretary of the Department of Health and Environment Dr. Robert Moser; and Health Care Finance Director Kari Bruffett fielded questions concerning KanCare. Their presentations met with mixed reviews with many legislators skeptical about these proposed changes.

The tax proposal is taking the most heat because of the huge hit to the state’s budget: $89.9 million in lost revenue for FY 2013 and $99.0 million the next year. The Legislative Research Department told legislators that the proposal would increase the taxes of those with returns claiming less than the $25,000 a year in taxable income, those who need the extra dollars most. The Governor’s plan reduces, in most cases, individual income tax rates and eliminates a number of tax credits, including charitable contributions and the home mortgage interest credits.

Anyone familiar with the state budget would agree that the escalating costs of Medicaid must be addressed. The Governor’s proposal – a product of a special committee headed by his Lt. Governor, Dr. Jeff Colyer, a practicing physician from Johnson County – is a managed care system, KanCare. Proponents of KanCare believe the state can save as much as $853.0 billion over the next five years with the implementation of this managed system; others, like Sen. Roger Reitz, R-Manhattan, also a practicing physician, believe the plan is unrealistic. Sen. Vicki Schmidt, R-Topeka, who heads the Senate’s Public Health and Welfare Committee, has said “this is a done deal” -- the escalating costs of Medicaid must be addressed. Because the requests for proposal have already been issued, the project is moving forward, but, she points out, it will be up to the legislature to make sure there is transparency and oversight.


A Condensed Overview of the State Budget Process….The Governor presented his budget last week following his State of the State address on January 11, but there are still many steps to go before the state has a budget for FY 2013. The next move in the process will be budget proposals from each chamber. Initially, a budget subcommittee will meet for a hearing on a section of the budget. These subcommittees will hear testimony from the agencies they oversee, deliberate and then vote on a budget recommendation that may or may not match the Governor’s proposal. From there, the subcommittee’s report is forwarded on to the appropriate budget committee, House Appropriations or Senate Ways and Means. That committee may approve or amend the subcommittee’s report before combining all the subcommittee reports into a budget bill. Once approved by the budget committee, the budget bill moves to the chamber floor for debate and a vote. After each chamber has approved a budget, the two versions go to a conference committee where the two are melded together, then, again, approved by each chamber. The final product of this process is then presented to the Governor for his signature.

The library budget falls under Education with Rep. Lana Gordon, R-Topeka, chair of that House subcommittee and Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, chair of the Senate subcommittee. Dates for those hearings have not been set, but are expected sometime in February.

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For additional information, please contact Jennie Rose, jennieadamsrose@yahoo.com

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