Headlines for Sunday, May 31, 2015
KCK Schools Announce Layoffs, Pay Cuts
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City, Kansas, school officials say low state funding and the loss of $2 million in expected state money this year are forcing the district to lay off 31 staff members and cut pay for about 850 others. Superintendent Cynthia Lane says she spent six hours Wednesday announcing the cuts to her staff. Those laid off include Edwin Hudson, the district's human resources chief, and 30 assessment managers hired three years ago to keep track of state assessment scores. Lane told the Kansas City Star she looked to her administration for the staff cuts, and that no teachers are losing their jobs. All district staff members will be forced to take four unpaid furlough days off in the 2015-2016 school year, which amounts to a pay cut.
US Supreme Court Rule on Earnings Tax Could Hurt Kansas
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Legal experts say a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling could mean more trouble for Kansas officials already struggling with budget problems. The court ruled that Maryland's policy of providing only partial credit for income taxes paid in other states is unconstitutional.Kansas gives residents full credit on state taxes for income taxes paid to other states where they work. But it does not provide the credit for the 1 percent earnings tax paid by those who work in Kansas City, Missouri. The Kansas City Star reports the Supreme Court ruling could force Kansas to pay full tax credits to Kansans who work in Kansas City, Missouri, at an estimated cost of $35 million or more a year. The question is likely to be decided by lower courts.
Brownback Unveils Tax Plan Aimed at Closing Budget Gap
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback is proposing a state sales tax increase and other measures to deal with the state's projected budget shortfall.Brownback on Saturday proposed that legislators address an estimated $406 million deficit by increasing the state sales tax to 6.65 percent from 6.15 percent and eliminating most income tax deductions.The plan also would exempt 388,000 low-income Kansans from income tax and increase cigarette taxes by 50 cents per pack. The plan would raise $23.7 million by imposing income tax on some previously exempted small business revenues. All income deductions except the one for charitable donations would be eliminated, while mortgage and property deductions would be cut in half. The plan is estimated to fill the budget gap and leave $81 million in reserves for the next fiscal year.
Kansas House Approves Bill Tweaking 'Webcam Abortion' Ban
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has approved a bill aimed at allowing the state to enforce a ban on what critics call "webcam" abortions.The chamber voted 109-2 to pass the bill yesterday (SAT). It makes technical changes in a provision in a 2011 law enacting health and safety regulations specifically for abortion providers. The state hasn't been able to enforce the law because two providers filed a lawsuit in Shawnee County District Court against it.The measure modifies a provision of the law requiring a doctor who provides an abortion-inducing drug to be in the same room when a patient takes it. It creates an exception for medical emergencies.The Senate passed the measure unanimously last week and it now goes to Governor Sam Brownback.
Kansas Senate Approves Array of Election Law Changes
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has approved an array of changes to state election laws dealing with the use of social media by campaigns and regulations on political signs.The chamber voted 27-11 yesterday (SAT) to approve the measure. It now goes to the House for consideration.The bill would waive the mandatory note indicating a political message was paid for by a campaign when it appears on a social media platform that limits messages to 200 characters or less. State political campaigns have had difficulty including the note when tweeting because Twitter allows a maximum of 140 characters.The bill also would bar cities and counties from enforcing restrictions on the placement of political signs during the 30 days before an election and the seven days following it.
Kansas Senate Rejects Proposed Budget for State Courts
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has rejected a proposed $97 million budget for the judicial branch for the fiscal year beginning July 1st.The chamber voted 21-18 yesterday (SAT) to send the bill back to negotiations between members of the House and Senate. Democratic Senator Laura Kelly from Topeka said she was concerned because the budget contained a clause that says if a court strikes down any part of it, the whole thing is void. Parts of last year's budget are being challenged in a state district court lawsuit.Kelly said that she believed the clause could be the Legislature's way of eliminating funding for the courts. Republican Senator Jeff King from Independence said that the clause was important for keeping policy changes in the budget consistent year to year.
Kansas Casino Board Hears Proposals
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Three companies pitched their proposals for the license to a run a new, state-owned casino in southeast Kansas.The three presented their plans to the Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board on Friday. The state is considering proposals for the development of a gambling facility in southeast Kansas. The state facility would provide a percentage of lottery revenues to the state and counties. The Joplin Globe reports the proposals include a $78.5 million project at the former Camptown Greyhound Park in Frontenac; Kansas Crossing, a $64.7-million project at the northwest corner of U.S. Highways 69 and 400, and Castle Rock, a $140-million project that would be built along U.S. 400 near Interstate 44. In 2008, Penn National backed out of a deal to build a state-owned casino in Cherokee County.
Kansas AG to Prosecute Man Accused of Shooting Officer
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas attorney general's office will lead the prosecution of a 22-year-old man accused of wounding an Oklahoma law enforcement officer.The 22-year-old suspect is being held in the Montgomery County jail along with two others suspected of leading law enforcement on a chase Thursday in southeast Kansas and northern Oklahoma.Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office said in a release Saturday no formal charges have been filed. The other suspects are awaiting extradition back to Oklahoma. An officer tried to stop an SUV on Thursday in Rogers County, Oklahoma, but the vehicle took off with three people inside.Police say during the chase, someone inside the SUV shot at an Oologah police cruiser, striking an officer. Officials said Friday the officer is recovering from wounds that are not life-threatening.