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KPR opened its first full-time Statehouse Bureau in Topeka in January of 1978. Ever since, KPR's Statehouse Bureau, which is often called the KPR-Network, has provided gavel-to-gavel coverage of the legislature, executive and judicial branches of Kansas government and other stories of statewide interest. KPR is the only broadcast outlet in the state that maintains a full-time, year-round bureau at the Capitol.

Tax Collection Numbers Will Affect Budget Talks

State tax collections came in below estimates in March, and that could hurt efforts to balance the state budget. The Department of Revenue says tax collections were 19 million dollars below estimates. The House and Senate have crafted budget plans aimed at leaving the state with a surplus at the end of next fiscal year, but tax collection shortfalls could erase that projected ending balance. Senate President Steve Morris, a Hugoton Republican, says lawmakers do still have the option of altering the budget plans.

Morris says it wasn’t all bad news. March 2011 tax collections were up by $18 million over than the same month last year.

House Passes Budget Plan

The Kansas House has approved its version of the budget for 2012. After a marathon session yesterday (THUR), the House voted 69-52 to approve the package, which includes about 6 billion dollars in state spending. The proposal would leave the state with around 80 million dollars at the end of the fiscal year. House Speaker Mike O’Neal, a Hutchinson Republican, was happy with the outcome.

Paul Davis of Lawrence is the top Democrat in the House. He wasn’t satisfied with millions of dollars in cuts to social services and school funding.

Complicating matters is yesterday's (THUR) revenue report for March showing the state missed a tax collection estimate by 19 million dollars. The Senate approved its version of the budget on Tuesday. Negotiators will meet in the coming weeks to iron out differences between the bills, before lawmakers return to the Statehouse in late April.

House Amends State Employee Pay Cut Proposal

The Kansas House has voted to include legislative staff in a proposed state employee pay cut. A House committee had originally voted to exempt lawmakers’ staff from the cut. During debate on a budget bill, some lawmakers called the exemption unfair. Representative TerriLois ("terry lois") Gregory is a Baldwin City Republican.

The pay cut would affect employees making more than 40 thousand dollars per year. Employees making more than 100 thousand dollars per year would see their pay reduced by 7.5 percent. Lower paid employees would see a smaller cut. House members could finalize their version of the budget later today (THUR).

Senate Passes Budget Bill

The Kansas Senate has approved their version of a state budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1st. Yesterday’s (TUE) 36 to 3 vote sends the bill to the House, which will debate its own version of the 2012 budget later in the week. The Senate measure would reduce aid to schools by around 230 dollars per student. Carolyn McGinn, a Republican from Sedgwick, chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee. She said senators did what they had to do to balance the state budget.

Senators voted to cut the pay of lawmakers and other state officials to help eliminate a 500 million dollar deficit. For more on the budget bill, tune in later this hour.

Lawmakers Split Over KPERS Bills

Lawmakers are considering two very different proposals to tackle a funding problem in the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, or KPERS (kay-pers). The system faces a projected 7.7 billion dollar deficit over the coming 30 years. The House bill would shift new workers to a 401(k)-style investment plan. The Senate version would keep employees in a traditional pension, but study if a 401(k) plan is a good idea. Governor Sam Brownback charged the Senate with looking into the issue, but he hasn’t said which proposal he favors.

Both versions would have the state and employees putting more money into KPERS. For more on the two proposals, tune in later this hour.


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