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Headlines for Saturday, July 25, 2015

Governor: Kansas Budget Cuts Coming

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says his budget director will outline spending cuts next week to help prevent a deficit. Brownback said yesterday (FRI) that budget director Shawn Sullivan's duties also have been expanded so that he'll examine what the governor called "back office" operations across state government to see whether savings can be found. The Republican governor said his administration will seek to cut about $50 million. That's the amount lawmakers counted upon when they approved increases in sales and cigarette taxes last month to help balance the state budget. Brownback said the cuts won't touch aid to public schools, but state law limits his power to trim education funding. Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said he worries that cuts to higher education and social services are coming.


Governor's Teacher Pay Comparison Faulty

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback has stumbled in trying to build a case that teachers in Kansas are paid significantly better on average than teachers in neighboring Missouri. Brownback told reporters during a Friday news conference that teachers in Kansas are paid an average of nearly $55,000 a year. The figure includes both salary and benefits. He said teachers in Missouri are paid just under $48,000. That would be 13 percent less. The governor's staff said the numbers came from each state's education department. But Nancy Bowles, spokeswoman for Missouri's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, says Missouri's figure doesn't include benefits because local districts don't report that information to the state. Without fringe benefits, the Kansas salary total is about $49,700, including extra summertime pay.


Kansas Supreme Court Sets Schedule for School Funding Lawsuit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in November on whether the school funding law has fixed unconstitutional disparities so it provides equal educational opportunities for all students. But it will not be until spring of 2016 when it will hear the part of the appeal on whether Kansas has met its constitutional duty to provide adequate funding for public education. The high court issued a four-page schedule yesterday (FRI) that sets separate timelines for briefings and arguments on the equity and adequacy of school funding in Kansas. The court says that while those issues do not exist in isolation from each other, they are in different stages of resolution. Citing a need for an expedited decision on the equity issue, the court set it for a November 6th hearing.


Court Rules Against Ex-KSU Lineman

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has ordered a lower court to reconsider whether a former Kansas State offensive lineman owes interest on previously unpaid child support. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the high court on yesterday (FRI) overturned a state appeals court decision on previously unpaid child support payments by former Kansas State star offensive lineman Kendyl Jacox. The state of Kansas alleged Jacox owed more than $173,600 in back payments to the mother of his child born in 1998 when he was at Kansas State. The woman then sought interest on the payments, but the lower courts ruled against her. The state Supreme Court ruled the lower courts erred and ordered the case sent back to Riley County.


Blue Bell Restarts Production After Listeria Scare

BRENHAM, Texas (AP) — Blue Bell Creameries has started ice cream production trial runs in Alabama three months after a listeria scare halted all sales. The Texas-based company said it's evaluating enhanced production processes at its plant in Sylacauga (sihl-uh-KAW'-guh), Alabama. Blue Bell earlier this month notified health officials of its plans for test production, which began Wednesday. Company officials in a statement yesterday (FRI) said production facilities in three states have undergone changes that include replacing floors and ceilings, and modifying HVAC systems. Blue Bell has not said when sales will resume. Company products were linked to 10 listeria illnesses in four states, including three deaths in Kansas, before a recall April 20. Listeria is a bacteria that can cause serious illness, especially in older adults, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems.


Sick Animals Abandoned at Motel

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Officials are looking for one or two people who abandoned several animals at a Salina motel. Salina animal control officers went to a Traveler's Lodge Thursday after receiving an odor complaint. They found emaciated, dehydrated cats, snakes, turtles and rats. Some of the animals were feeding on other animals that had died. Vanessa Cowie, animal services manager at the Salina Animal Shelter, says it appears the animals had been abandoned for at least two weeks. The Salina Journal reports shelter workers saved at least 10 animals. Some reptiles could be released into the wild the other animals will eventually be put up for adoption. Salina police Capt. Mike Sweeney said police are seeking one or two people who are believed to have stayed at the motel.


Hutch Woman Receives Christmas Card After 47 Years

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Hutchinson woman has received a Christmas card nearly a half-century after it was mailed from neighboring Nebraska. The Christmas card that Carol Hastings received had a 6-cent stamp and was postmarked Omaha, Nebraska, on December 20th, 1968. The Hutchinson News reports the card was delivered to Hastings on Thursday — nearly 47 years late. The card was from a family friend in Nebraska who she hadn't been in touch with since the 1950s. The letter was addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Bill Hastings at their old address in Hutchinson. Hastings and her family are trying to locate relatives of the sender, who they believe may have already died.


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