“We need to remain flexible here in this state and find our own Kansas-based solutions.”
That’s what Senate President Susan Wagle said, apparently trying to keep the door open for Kansas to expand Medicaid services under the new federal health care law. But an amendment to the Senate’s version of the state budget could make expansion less likely. It says the Legislature has to approve it. Wagle supported that but said she’d like to keep searching for ways to expand services. Gov. Sam Brownback hasn’t decided whether he’ll advocate expansion, but a growing number of GOP governors are favoring expansion, which could get more low-income people on the health care program and send new federal money to hospitals to take care of patients who otherwise couldn’t afford routine services.
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That’s how much new revenue the state would bring in by trimming the value of tax deductions, as is proposed in the House GOP tax plan. The plan aims to replace some of the revenue lost by the massive cuts signed into law last year while promising further rate reductions whenever the state’s revenue grows beyond 2 percent. Democrats say it is a big tax hike. Republicans say it’s a big cut given that it allows a six-tenths of a cent sales tax to expire this summer as scheduled.
State universities appear to be trending down. The House aims to cut state spending on regents schools by 4 percent. The Senate aims to cut it by 2 percent. Regents officials say it could cause yet another round of tuition increases.
Republican leaders say they’ll begin a potentially long set of budget debates between the House and the Senate this week, which could significantly change the future of Wichita’s National Center for Aviation Training, Judge Riddel’s Boys Ranch and other state services. Proposals could shift significantly as the two chambers begin negotiations on competing tax cut plans.
For more legislative news, go to www.kansas.com/politics and follow @BrentWistrom on Twitter.