Representative Susan Concannon
The 2019 Legislative Session kicked off on January 14th with swearing in ceremonies and open houses scheduled throughout the day. Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss administered the oaths of office, starting with the statewide offices in the morning. Hundreds braved the chilly weather to watch the new Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Insurance Commissioner take their oaths. All 125 Representatives were sworn-in by Justice Nuss in the House Chambers. The evening was full of pomp and circumstance at the Governor’s Inaugural Ball. It was great to reconnect with friends and colleagues…enjoying the festivities before buckling down to work on the business ahead.
State of the State
Governor Kelly gave her State of the State address Wednesday, January 16th. She outlined 3 key priorities:
- Restoring funding for public schools
- Expanding Medicaid to help rural hospitals and communities
- Fixing the foster care system to help our most vulnerable
Governor Kelly made several promises in her address. Her pledges for bipartisanship and balancing the budget without a tax increase are commendable and attainable. While the governor and I will most certainly have differences, as the chairman of the Children and Seniors Committee, I look forward to working with the administration to reform the Kansas foster care system.
Governor’s Budget Details
On Thursday, Division of the Budget Director Larry Campbell provided details on the Governor’s Budget Report (GBR) to a Joint Committee of House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means.
- A one-year budget for all state agencies, with the exception of K-12 and the biennial budgets (Fee Boards), which are budgeted for two years.
- While K-12 is budgeted for 2 years, the Governor included a 5-year funding proposal. “The Governor respectfully asks the Legislature to enact this plan by February 28th in order to satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court.”
- The K-12 proposal includes inflation rate of 1.44 percent from FY 19 through FY 23. “As a result, the Governor’s plan increases funding from the approved plan by the 2018 legislature by $363.6 million from FY 20 though FY 23.
- SGF balances are 9.5% for FY ’19 and 9.1% for FY ’20.
- State Highway Fund (SHF) transfers are to be ended by FY ’23. Of note, $238 million of transfers between SHF and State General Fund (SGF) are scheduled to occur in FY ’20.
- Includes $14.9 million SGF for Medicaid Expansion, along with $12.4 million SGF for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
- Pays off the Pooled Money Investment Board (PMIB) loan 5 years early, requiring a revenue transfer of $264.3 million SGF to fully pay off the $317.2 million loan in FY 19.
- Budget is reported to be “structurally balanced—revenues exceed expenditures with no tax increase.” The reinvestment in schools, foster care, rural Kansas, etc. are a step forward, however it cannot be attained without reamortizing KPERS, as proposed by the governor. Reamortization saves approximately $145 million SGF annually, while costing $7 billion over the long term, negating gains being made towards reducing the unfunded liability. This irresponsible proposal simply skirts the issue by continuing to borrow.
- Includes a 2.5% pay increase for Executive Branch employees (the Governor cannot propose increases for the Legislative and Judicial Branch).
- Restores remaining FY 17 SGF allotment to the Board of Regents in FY 2020 at a cost of $8.9 million.
- The GBR includes the Judicial Branch’s request without recommendation. The Governor traditionally includes the Judicial Branch’s request in this manner. The Judicial Branch’s FY 18 actual SGF expenditures were approximately $103 million. The FY 19 request is @$107 million. The request for FY 20 is $129 million.
With Laura Kelly’s inauguration on Monday, the Executive Branch transition shifts to getting the Governor’s Cabinet solidified. The Governor’s Secretaries will face Confirmation hearings and if successfully recommended, then are subject to the full Senate’s approval. These hearings will take place in Senate Committees during the 2019 Session. The following individuals have been named to lead state agencies:
|Named Agency Head||Agency|
|Major General Lee Tafanelli||Adjutant General|
|Duane Goossen (interim)||Administration|
|Laura Howard (interim)||Aging and Disability Services|
|Laura Howard (interim)||Children and Families|
|Roger Werholtz (interim)||Corrections|
|Dr. Lee Norman (interim)||Health and Environment|
|Colonel Mark Bruce||Kansas Highway Patrol|
|Former Rep. Delia Garcia||Labor|
|Brad Loveless||Wildlife, Parks and Tourism|
In addition, Kelly is retaining the services of Larry Campbell, former Representative from Olathe as Budget Director, and Lee Allen as Chief Information Technology Officer. She has also named Stephen Durrell as the Interim Director of the Kansas Lottery.
Lactation Room Opened in the Statehouse
On Friday January 10, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the opening of the Lactation Room in the Capitol. Visitors, employees, and Statehouse regulars will be able to access the room, 186B-N. The Legislative Coordinating Council (LCC) approved creation of the room at its December 2018 meeting. Rep. Don Hineman (R-Dighton) spoke and offered thanks to all who helped make the room possible—the LCC, Legislative Administrative Services Director Tom Day, former Representative John Wilson, and Representative Eileen Horn (D-Lawrence). In addition, there is a family restroom that has a lactation area. It is located at 161-W.
Kansas House Transparency
At the direction of House Leadership last year, the daily House session on the Kansas Legislature’s YouTube Channel which carries daily sessions for both the House and the Senate. There is also live audio streaming of committee proceedings on the Kansas Legislature website.
While the budget committees complete their work, the Appropriations Committee is using committee time getting background information on the various agencies requesting funding. Revenues were below estimates by approximately $52 million for January, but continue to be above estimates for the fiscal year. This shows exposes fiscal instability and the necessity for responsible spending and tax plan. As the spending needs of the state are debated in the next few weeks, priority should be given to infrastructure (roads, education, technology, safety, water, etc.). These “investments” today will lower cost to Kansas taxpayers in the long run.
Child Welfare System Task Force Report
The House Children and Seniors Committee heard an overview of the Report of the Child Welfare System Task Force to the 2019 Legislature. In 2017, the Child Welfare Task Force was established via SB 126 (2017), and charged with studying levels of oversight by the Department for Children and Families (DCF) to foster care and adoptive services, agency duties and responsibilities contributing to child welfare services, the accessibility of child welfare services, the number of children in the child welfare system, and licensing standards for case manager working in the child welfare system. Additionally, they studied the administration of child welfare services, protective services, family preservation, reintegration, foster care, and permanent placement.
The Task Force has generated a report which contains their 23 recommendations to the Legislature. The five highest priority recommendations deal with workforce, data infrastructure, the Family First Act, access to care, and Code for Care of Children (CINC).
Rural Revitalization Committee
The newly-created Rural Revitalization Committee will be studying a number of topics that affect rural Kansans, including broadband expansion, economic development, impact of regulations, health care, housing, food access, and demographic information. It is no secret that Kansas rural communities have fought through several series of challenges over the years—everything from declining population to broadband access. These issues are critical, and the time is now to confront those issues.
The Committee meets daily at 9 AM in 582-N and is chaired by Representative Don Hineman (R-Dighton) and Adam Smith (R-Weskan) serves as Vice Chairman. During the Committee’s first meeting on Tuesday January 15, Chairman Hineman noted it will be important to look at collaborations for rural communities along with industry, as there will likely not be state dollars available.
The start of a new session means it’s time to schedule legislative pages. Please contact my office 785-296-7644 if you know of a 6th through 12th grade student who might be interested!
Thanks so much for the opportunity to serve you!