Drop Dead this week, so where are we?

There is a lot going on in the Kansas Legislature this week, since Drop Dead Day is Friday, April 5th. This is the last day for bills to be worked and voted on and sent to the Governor. Or at least, that's the plan. If that happens, the Legislature will then take the next three weeks off for their "Spring Break," and reconvene on May 1st for the veto session, where they would consider bills voted by the Governor after Drop Dead Day. But that's not how it usually works.

In most recent years, the Legislature has pushed important issues back so late that they have often had to continue their normal work well in to May, and even June! So, we thought we'd look at where we are on the most important issues we outlined right at the beginning of the session in early January. Today marks the 50th day the Legislature has met in 2019.

The Budget

Without a balanced budget, Kansas cannot end the Legislative Session. The Governor offered a one-year budget in early January, earlier than any time in the Brownback Administration, to give legislators time to work. It not only balanced the budget, but left an ending surplus for emergencies, a feature Brownback's years did away with quickly as their tax policies decimated the state. Her budget fully funded education, expanded Medicaid, and began to rely less on transfers than Brownback did. And it did not raise or lower taxes.

Where are we at now? Legislative Leadership rejected her cost-cutting re-amortizing of KPERS debt, removed her funding for health care expansion, created and passed a bill to give $200 million or more in tax revenue to corporations and the highest earners, and has put the end of education finance litigation in jeopardy. Meanwhile, the Senate has passed a budget that puts the state in deficit by 2022.


When the session began, Kansas was just $93 million away from finally ending a decade of education finance litigation, and fully funding schools. All it would take was a simple bill to fund that difference, and districts, parents, and children could finally stop worrying about the future of their schools. To put it in perspective, Kansas spends $3.5 billion annually for education.

So, what has happened so far this year? While the Senate passed the Governor's recommendation with bipartisan support, the Kansas House has balked at this, instead producing policy and financial bills that are unlikely to pass the Kansas Supreme Court's review. They waited so long that they are now up against the Drop Dead Day deadline on Friday, and the Court's own deadline of April 15, with no legislation in place.

Health Care

Every year, Kansans pay Federal taxes for health care. And every year, those tax dollars go to other states that have expanded health care, but not to Kansas. To date, we have sent $3.5 billion, and not received any back. Medicaid expansion has been beneficial to other states, and 77% of Kansans want to see it pass. It might not have stopped rural hospitals from closing, but it would have provided them much needed relief to continue working to stay in their communities.

Every year, Kansans try to pass health care expansion. In 2017, it passed both chambers, but was vetoed by Governor Brownback, then failed to override his veto by just 3 votes in the Kansas Senate.

So where are we today? KanCare expansion has once again passed the Kansas House, but sits stalled in the Kansas Senate because Senate Leaders refuse to allow a vote. The same votes that failed to override Brownback's veto, those of leadership, are refusing to even let the question come up this year.

The Definition of Hope

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different outcome. Every year, moderates of conservative, centrist, and liberal bent make a good faith effort to move Kansas forward, with sustainable fiscal policies that don't burden anyone too harshly, with education policies that benefit ALL Kansas children, with health care reform that looks to lift working Kansans out of a cycle of poor health.

In 2017, we inched forward. In 2018, we took a step back. And in 2019? Well, it remains to be seen. That's the definition of hope, trying again despite setbacks.

We ask that you, the Kansas voter, keep trying. Start with the link above to make yourself heard on these and other important issues. (Or click this link, but do it today!)

Then we ask you to stay informed, and get involved.

Do more than vote.

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