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Headlines for Saturday, November 7, 2015

Kansas Slashes Revenue Forecast, Adjusts Budget to Avert Gap

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has slashed its revenue projections, and Republican Governor Sam Brownback's budget director has announced immediate budget adjustments so the state keeps paying its bills on time. State officials and university economists yesterday (FRI) issued a new, more pessimistic forecast for state government. The new forecast predicts $354 million less in state revenues from now through June 2017 than previously predicted. The new forecast created a deficit in the state's current budget. Budget director Shawn Sullivan immediately announced $124 million in budget adjustments to close the gap and avoid delays in meeting the state's bills. The new forecast came hours after the Kansas Supreme Court heard arguments about whether a school funding law enacted earlier this year is valid and whether school districts are owed another $54 million in aid.


Budget Division Recommends Against Emergency School Aid

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback's administration is recommending against granting emergency state aid to most Kansas school districts that plan on seeking funds at an upcoming meeting with lawmakers. The Capital-Journal reports superintendents were sent a message from the Kansas State Department of Education on behalf of the Division of Budget. The message says giving certain districts extra aid would not benefit them until next year because school budgets for this fiscal year have already been set. The message directed at 17 of 23 districts that applied for aid suggested they apply for money next year and that attending the State Finance Council meeting on Monday is not necessary. The governor's office said Thursday that the message was meant as a courtesy advance notice to the superintendents since many district representatives would be driving to Topeka from western Kansas.


State Defends School Funding in Kansas Supreme Court Hearing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An attorney for four Kansas school districts says the state Supreme Court  needs to take "prompt action" to fix funding shortfalls. Attorney Alan Rupe told the court yesterday (FRI) that "the kids of Kansas deserve nothing less." He is requesting $54 million that he says poor schools were shortchanged last year and this year. Earlier Friday, the state's attorney, Stephen McAllister, told the court school funding increases in 2014 were an improvement over previous years. He argued the decision to adopt block grant funding while lawmakers look for a better school funding formula shouldn't be punished. A Shawnee County District Court panel found in June that the state's new strategy for financing 286 school districts and cuts to state aid for low-income school districts were unconstitutional.


High Court to Hear Appeal on Sex Offender Registration

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will decide whether convicted sex offenders must update their status on the federal sex offender registry after moving to a foreign country. The justices agreed yesterday (FRI) to resolve a split among lower courts that reached different outcomes in the cases of two men — one who lived in Kansas City, Kansas and another who lived in Kansas City, Missouri. The court will hear an appeal from Lester Nichols, a Kansas man who moved to the Philippines after his release from prison in 2012 without updating his registration. A federal appeals court in Denver upheld his conviction for violating the law. But a federal appeals court in St. Louis said a convicted sex offender from Missouri did not have to register after he also moved to the Philippines.


Lawrence Woman Charged in Fleeing to Europe with Daughters

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas woman has been charged after she fled to Europe with her 9-year-old and 11-year-old daughters. The Douglas County District Attorney's Office says Samantha Elmer was charged yesterday (FRI) with two counts of aggravated interference with parental custody. Authorities say Elmer and the girls were was last seen October 26th in Lawrence. The girls' father, Justin Bush of Smithville, Missouri says he contacted Elmer after the girls missed several days of school and Elmer told him the girls were ill. Bush contacted Lawrence police a few days later and they traced Elmer to Europe. Sergeant Trent McKinley says missing person profiles have been created on Interpol, which assists in solving international crimes.  Bush says Elmer left ahead of a custody hearing and a November 2nd trial on theft charges.


Passenger Who Caused Flight to be Diverted Released on Bond

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A magistrate judge has released on $25,000 bond a passenger who allegedly threatened to bring down an American Airlines flight after being refused a beer. Thirty-eight-year-old Jason Baroletti of Holbrook, New York, was ordered on Friday as one of his release conditions not to travel by commercial airline. He also is not to use alcohol while he awaits trial on one count of interfering with the performance of a flight crew. The disruption caused American Airlines to divert a Phoenix-to-New York flight Tuesday evening to Wichita, Kansas.


Kansas Man Who Robbed Businesses with Kids in Car Sentenced

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 26-year-old Wichita man has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison for robbing three businesses while his young children were in his getaway car. The Sedgwick County prosecutor's office says Charles Emerson pleaded guilty in September to one count of aggravated robbery and three counts of robbery. He was sentenced yesterday (FRI) in Sedgwick County District Court to 59 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $1,100 in restitution. Prosecutors say Emerson was armed with a pistol on April 21st when he robbed an X-Citement Video, Quik Trip and Petro America in Wichita within 90 minutes. His 10-month-old daughter and 5-year-old son were asleep in the back seat of the car during the robberies. Emerson's girlfriend is scheduled to be sentenced on similar charges in December.

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