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Headlines for Saturday, June 4, 2016

Kansas news headlines from the Associated Press

Kansas Considers Shuffling Funds to Close New Budget Gap

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A spokeswoman for Governor Sam Brownback says his staff is looking at shuffling funds within state government to cover a projected short-term budget deficit. But Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley said yesterday (FRI) that budget-balancing measures won't be finalized until officials have a better picture of revenues this month. Tax collections fell $74.5 million short of expectations in May. That leaves Kansas with a projected deficit of about $45 million when the fiscal year ends June 30. Hawley said the governor does not anticipate trimming spending to address the problem. But making cuts so late in a fiscal year is difficult anyway. She said the governor's budget staff is looking at diverting fees collected in dozens of special funds into the state's main bank account, where the shortfall would occur.


Retired PR Executive Tapped to Review Kansas Revenue Estimating

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has appointed the retired chief financial officer of an advertising and public relations agency to lead a review of the state's revenue-projecting process. Brownback announced yesterday (FRI) that Sam Williams of Wichita will help budget director Shawn Sullivan evaluating the forecasting process. The governor's office also said Williams will help analyze tax policy. The governor's budget staff, Department of Revenue officials, legislative researchers and university economists issue revenue forecasts for state government twice a year. Tax collections have fallen short of their projections 10 of the past 12 months. Williams is a former CFO for Sullivan Higdon & Sink who ran unsuccessfully for Wichita mayor in 2015. He also served as chairman of a task force set up in 2014 to look for efficiencies in public schools.


OSHA Plans Probe of Kansas Worker's Scaffolding Death

LEAWOOD, Kan. (AP) — A federal workplace safety investigation is planned in the case of a man who fell to his death from scaffolding during an apartment renovation site in suburban Kansas City. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration says it will scrutinize the death yesterday (FRI) in Leawood, Kansas, of a Van Trust Real Estate LLC employee. The man's name, age and hometown have not been released. Judy Freeman, OSHA's area director in Wichita, says the agency extends its sympathies to the victim's family and friends. She says OSHA will thoroughly investigate whether any safety standards were violated.


Former Owner of Topeka Racetrack Sues City for $4 million

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The former owner of the Heartland Park Topeka racetrack is suing the city of Topeka for more than $4 million. Jayhawk Racing LLC and Heartland Park LLC allege in the lawsuit that the city breached its contract by not honoring an agreement to purchase the park and assume the plaintiffs' debt. They also claim the city charged for storm water services for more than 12 years but didn't ever provide the services. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports city attorney Lisa Robertson declined to comment on the lawsuit. In June 2014, the city agreed to acquire Jayhawk's interest in Heartland Park and expand the park's STAR bond district. After several problems arose, the city decided in May 2015 not to finance the purchase with $5.5 million in STAR bonds.


Lawrence Woman Pleads Guilty to Killing Woman

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A woman has admitted that she killed a Lawrence woman who had given her a place to live. Angelica Kulp pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder and aggravated burglary in a plea agreement that dropped a first-degree murder charge. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Kulp killed 56-year-old Christine Kaplan in July 2014. Police found dozens of stab wounds on Kaplan's body when it was found in her home. Prosecutor Eve Kemple says Kaplan was known for helping those in need and had given Kulp a place to stay. But Kaplan eventually asked Kulp to leave and said she was afraid of her. Several days after Kaplan's body was found, Kulp was arrested in Topeka after an unrelated burglary of an acquaintance's house. Sentencing is scheduled for July 1.


Kansas Officials Warning Public about Synthetic Drug

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is warning the public to be aware of a drug that has contributed to several accidental drug overdose deaths in the last month. KBI spokesman Mark Malick says the drug, U-47700, is a synthetic opioid analgesic drug that is nearly eight times more potent than morphine. It causes sedation and respiratory depression, which can be harmful or fatal. Malick says the drug can be obtained from several sources and is available in many forms. The shipments usually come from overseas, particularly China. It is sold in vials or plastic baggies that are labeled "Not for Human Consumption" or "For Research Purposes Only." Malick says the KBI is working with the Kansas Board of Pharmacy and several jurisdictions to quickly make the drug illegal in Kansas.


Man Sentenced to 23 Years for Fatal Stabbing

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence man was sentenced to more than 23 years in prison for fatally stabbing a man to death. The Lawrence Journal-World reports 34-year-old Joshua Back was sentenced Thursday for intentional second-degree murder and theft. He was convicted in April of killing 45-year-old Tracy Dean Lautenschlager outside a home in May 2015. The victim was later found bleeding in the parking lot of a McDonald's restaurant. During sentencing Thursday, Back's attorney, Branden Smith, said he is planning an appeal.


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