Kansas Tax Hike Hailed as Fix Doesn't Quite Balance Budget
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The big income tax increase Kansas legislators enacted over Governor Sam Brownback's veto won't balance the budget by itself, despite immediately boosting the state's credit outlook. Even though the reversal of most of Brownback's income tax cuts will inject $1.2 billion in new revenue through June 2019, lawmakers will have to continue relying on some of the same fiscal patches they've employed in recent years to keep the books balanced as state law requires. It's partly because legislators also approved an increase in spending on public schools to meet a state Supreme Court mandate. However, the problems were deep enough that the GOP-controlled Legislature couldn't raise taxes — or cut spending — enough to fix all of them at once and still get the supermajorities needed to override Brownback's veto.
GOP's 2006 Nominee for Kansas Governor to Run Again in 2018
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas state senator who was the Republican nominee for governor in 2006 is running again for the office next year. Topeka physician Jim Barnett said Friday that he will kick off his campaign for the GOP nomination Tuesday in his hometown and have events in eight other cities over two days. Barnett served a decade in the Senate as an Emporia resident, starting in 2001. He lost the 2006 governor's race to Democratic incumbent Kathleen Sebelius. He also ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination in the 1st Congressional District of central and western Kansas in 2010. Barnett is joining a hotly contested race to replace term-limited GOP Gov. Sam Brownback. Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Wichita businessman Wink Hartman are also seeking the Republican nomination.
Governor's Veto Blocks Lottery Vending Machines in Kansas
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Vending machine sales of lottery tickets in Kansas are being blocked by conservative Republican Governor Sam Brownback. He vetoed a bill this week that had strong bipartisan support and declared that an expansion of state-run gambling would hurt the poor the most. Lottery officials had worked for months to get lawmakers to pass the bill authorizing vending machine sales. They argued that it could boost annual sales by as much as $30 million and generate between $8 million and $10 million in revenues to the state. Legislators agreed to dedicate much of the state's proceeds to community mental health services. Missouri and most other states allow vending machine sales of lottery tickets. Kansas has resisted even after legalizing state-owned casinos. Brownback has long been wary of expanding legalized gambling.
Mistrial on Murder Charge in Topeka Road-Rage Case
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Shawnee County judge declared a mistrial on a murder charge against a Topeka man involved in fatal road-rage confrontation. The jury on Friday said it was "hopelessly deadlocked" on the first-degree murder charge against 22-year-old Andre Clark Rhoiney Jr. in the October 2016 fatal shooting of 28-year-old Michael Stadler. The jury found Rhoiney guilty of aggravated assault and criminal discharge of a firearm. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports testimony indicated people in two vehicles were bickering and making rude gestures toward each other when a gunman in one vehicle shot at a van Stadler was riding in, killing him. District Attorney Mike Kagay said he will try Rhoiney again on the murder charge.
Incoming KU Chancellor's Salary More than Gray-Little's
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Incoming University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod will earn a higher salary than outgoing chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the 59-year-old Girod, who becomes chancellor July 1, will earn $550,000 plus $31,250 in deferred compensation at the end of the year. The Board of Regents signed the contract agreement with Girod on Wednesday. Gray-Little, Kansas chancellor for eight years, earned $510,041 this year. Girod, currently executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center and a practicing surgeon, will be paid increasing deferred compensation for each year he remains chancellor, up to a maximum $125,000 annually after four years. He also will be able to continue to practicing medicine. The state will pay $375,000 of Girod's salary, with the rest from paid by the KU Endowment.
Company: Salina Evacuation Near Plant Only Precautionary
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The company that owns a Salina manufacturing plant where a chemical incident prompted an evacuation says no chemicals leaked or spilled. Homes and businesses within a half-mile of the McShares Inc. plant were evacuated for about two hours Friday afternoon. No injuries were reported. McShares said in a statement the evacuations of its Research Products plant and surrounding areas were strictly precautionary. It continues to investigate the incident. Salina Fire Marshal Roger Williams said a tank that was about one-quarter full of benzoyl peroxide heated up, creating a plume that vented out of the smoke stack at Research Products, a division of McShares. The plant makes food additives and mixes of vitamins and minerals that are added to wheat, rice and corn flours and cereals.
Kansas High-Schoolers Help Toddlers with Immobility
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — More than 10 high school students from the Wichita area have been retrofitting toy ride-on cars for children with disabilities including spina bifida, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and dystonia. The Wichita Eagle reports that the students were divided into four pit crews that rewired, reprogrammed and adjusted the cars in partnership with Wichita State University physical therapy and engineering students as part of the school's GoBabyGo! Project. Program coordinator Samantha Corcoran says the car should help children with mobility issues practice and build leg muscles and coordination. Each car cost approximately $300 and was funded through various donors and sponsors.