Check this spot on Sundays for a few quick hits about what’s driving the debate in the Legislature.
“It’s in the mix. Sales tax is in the mix. It’s always going to be in the mix. … You need to get on the committee if you’re going to get that pertinent information.”
— Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita, chair of the Senate Tax Committee, responding to reporters’ questions about which taxes lawmakers will raise to fill a budget hole.
“My prediction, though, stands that they’ll do whatever they can to put everything on low-income and moderate (income) Kansans. They’ll want them to carry the load so that they can keep tax breaks for the wealthy.”
— Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, predicting that the tax package Republicans will offer will disproportionately affect the poor and middle class.
That’s the denial rate for claims made to the state’s KanCare providers from January through March, according to data from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
The state’s Catholic bishops came out in favor of expanding Medicaid, which would provide health coverage to 150,000 low-income Kansans who lack insurance. The bishops said in a statement that their stance flows from Scripture and that a culture is measured by how it provides for its weakest and most vulnerable.
Catholic clergy in other states have already been active on the issue. But whether the support of the church in Kansas will sway lawmakers remains to be seen. Moderate Republicans and Democrats have called for expansion all session, but have met resistance from conservatives who worry about the long-term costs. Gov. Sam Brownback, a Catholic, has been lukewarm on expansion so far.
The state’s budget fix remains very much in flux. Republicans are increasingly open to raising taxes – though some also want additional cuts – but there is no consensus on which taxes should be raised to fill a hole of more than $400 million.
Other contentious issues loom between lawmakers and the end of the session. There probably will be an attempt to override the governor’s veto on a bill that would have imposed stricter regulations on ride-share companies. And there will likely be an attempt – as there was last year – to repeal the state’s renewable energy standards.
For more legislative news, go to www.kansas.com/politics and follow @BryanLowry3 on Twitter.