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2016 Legislative Newsletter Week 1

Governor Sam Brownback’s State of the State Speech

On Tuesday, January 12, Governor Sam Brownback presented his annual State of the State Address in the Kansas House of Representatives Chamber to a joint session of the House and Senate.  Governor Brownback outlined his agenda for some of the items he would like the Kansas State Legislature to enact for the 2016 legislative session.  I do want to preface that these are the items that the governor addressed during his speech Tuesday evening, however we have yet to see whether any of these specific items will be drafted into legislative bill form.

Governor Brownback began his speech by addressing the accomplishments of his administration for the past five years.  Those being:  More than 388,000 low income Kansans now pay zero percent income taxes; KPERS is out of bankruptcy; more than half of the people on welfare are now off and out of poverty; technical education has tripled; state agencies have been consolidating; wasteful programs have been eliminated, and unemployment is down.

The major items that Governor Brownback focused on were on:

·Education-Governor Brownback called on the Legislature to design a new funding system that benefits instruction and provides bonuses for exceptional teachers;

·Kansas National Guard-The Governor’s new budget funds the arming and training of additional personnel;

·Refugees-The Governor said he will act and expand his executive order blocking state agencies from resettling any refugees that present a safety and security risk;

·GITMO-He said that he stands ready to thwart every action that President Obama takes to transfer terrorists to Kansas;

·Property Tax Lid-The Governor announced his support for strengthening the property tax lid by closing existing loopholes;

·Planned Parenthood-Governor Brownback directed that not a single dollar of taxpayer money go to Planned Parenthood through our Medicaid program.

These were the main focus of Governor Brownback’s State of the State speech, we will see which of these items will exactly flow through the legislative process during this session.

The Governor’s Budget Proposal

The morning following the State of the State speech, members from the House Appropriations Committee, on which I serve, and the Senate Ways and Means Committee held a joint committee meeting to review the Governor’s submitted budget proposal.  Budget Director, Shawn Sullivan addressed the main components of the Governor’s proposal and adjustments to the 2016 and 2017 budgets, both in revenue streams and expenditures that would provide for an ending balance for the 2016 fiscal year of $35.1 million dollars and an ending balance for fiscal year 2017 of $87.9 million.  For both years, we will need to take legislative action in the form of a rescission bill for fiscal year 2016 and a supplemental bill for fiscal year 2017.  For more information on the budget, visit the Kansas Division of Budget’s website at http://budget.ks.gov. 

The Kansas Efficiency Study

Last year, the Legislature appropriated up to $3 million dollars specifically for the purpose of contracting an auditing firm to evaluate the agencies and departments of the state of Kansas with the intent to identify monetary efficiencies.  Last summer, the firm of Alvarez & Marsal won the bid at the price of $2.6 million, and quickly began evaluating the state of Kansas’ books.  On Tuesday, during our Appropriations Committee meeting, auditors from Alvarez & Marsal presented their 105 recommendations, which would provide $2.04 billion in benefits to the state over the next year.  Some of the recommendations that they addressed were:

·Procurement, which is the purchase of goods and services by agencies and other state-funded entities, could possibly save the state over $100 million over the five year period;

·By changing the way the state bids out,  purchases, and administers its insurance policies, savings of over $170 million could be generated over a five year period;

·Several changes were recommended for the Department of Corrections that could provide $40 million in benefits over the next five years;

·Proposals for the Department of Children and Families could generate a savings of $19 million over the next five years, which would include measures to improve child support collections, an area where Kansas lags behind other states.  The merger of certain field offices was also recommended.

·The Department of Transportation could produce savings or additional revenue totaling $80 million through consolidation, sponsorships, and the selling of equipment;

·The Department of Revenue could generate $381 million, without raising taxes, namely by filling 68 positions within the department;

·Allowing all school districts to participate in the State Health Insurance and benefits plan would save taxpayers $360 million over five years.

Some of the recommendations can be handled administratively, while others will require legislative action.  These are just a few of the suggestions that were presented by Alvarez & Marsal this week.  They are still conducting a review of the state’s agencies and departments and will present their final analysis in February 2016.

Current Legislation and Contact Information

Even though it is only the first week of the 2016 Legislative Session, we having been moving at a quick pace.  Already this week we have voted on two House bills.

One of those bills, which is House Substitute for House Bill 2151.  This bill would amend the current law concerning grand juries summoned by petition, which is a practice commonly referred to as a citizens grand jury.  The bill would allow the person who filed the petition and that person’s attorney to witness the instructions given to the grand jury, after it is summoned, however not before deliberations.  There is no fiscal note with its passage.

This bill was debated and passed on the House floor on Thursday, January 14, 2016.

If you have any concerns, feel free to contact my office at (785) 296-7672, visit www.troywaymaster.com or email me at troy.waymaster@house.ks.gov

The honor to serve you in the 109th Kansas House District and the state of Kansas is one I do not take lightly. Do not hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, concerns and questions.  I appreciate hearing from the residents of the 109th House District and others from the state of Kansas. 

Troy L. Waymaster,

State Representative

109th Kansas House



Paid for by Troy Waymaster for 109th Kansas House, James Malone, Treasurer
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