Archive for Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Statehouse Live: Committee votes to pull plug on Kan-Ed

March 30, 2011, 11:42 a.m. Updated March 30, 2011, 12:07 p.m.

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— A House committee on Wednesday recommended approval of legislation to eliminate a state-run broadband network used by hundreds of schools, hospitals and libraries.

The measure by the House General Government Budget Committee would pull the plug on the Kan-Ed program on July 1, 2012. The House budget committee has already approved a bill that would remove the $10 million in funding for Kan-Ed and put it in the state's general purpose fund.

Members of the General Government Budget Committee said they supported the services that Kan-Ed provided but said its funding needs to come from another source.

Kan-Ed, which was established in 2001, is funded through a monthly 25 cent per line charge on telephone service.

“The funding stream needs to come from somewhere else than taxpayers at large,” said Rep. Pete DeGraaf, R-Mulvane.

Educators, hospital representatives and librarians from across the state have urged legislators to keep Kan-Ed going, saying the network provided invaluable computer access to tutoring, telemedicine and general assistance to Kansans, especially in rural areas.

But telephone and cable companies testified in opposition to Kan-Ed, saying the program had outlived its usefulness and was competing with private companies.

Some legislators expressed concern that Kan-Ed had proposed a bill that telephone and cable companies said showed the program wanted to get into phone service.

But Bradley Williams, Kan-Ed executive director, said the bill was proposed to allow Kan-Ed to gain access to some federal grants. Once the industry had expressed opposition to the bill, Kan-Ed withdrew it, he said.

Several legislators on the Government Budget Committee criticized Williams' operation of Kan-Ed, and said there was a lack of oversight.

Committee Chairman Joe McLeland, R-Wichita, said Williams was directed to provide a contingency funding plan for the plan, and never did.

Rep. Ramon Gonzalez, R-Perry, said he was concerned about the lack of a contingency plan for funding. “I have a contingency if my car breaks down,” he said.

Williams said the Legislature has always been supportive of Kan-Ed.

Rep. Tom Burroughs, D-Kansas City, said, “I'm here to tell you, that (support) is waning.”

Williams said 27 states fund similar programs the same way that Kansas does. He said tax funds, telephone charges or user fees are essentially the only way Kan-Ed could be funded.

McLeland and other committee members said perhaps hospitals and schools should be paying user fees for the services. School and hospital representatives have testified that it would be difficult to cover those costs because they have face budget cuts.

McLeland said the bill approved by the committee will give Kan-Ed a year to figure out how to raise funds and what kind of services to offer.

Comments

oldbaldguy 4 years, 4 months ago

You will see more of this in the next 2 years. What are we willing to pay more and how?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 4 months ago

Ongoing reviews of programs such as this is reasonable, but with this legislature, I doubt that this has anything to do with "reasonableness." More likely, it's just another knee-jerk attack against anything to do with the "gummint," especially if it involves sociamalistic things like schools and libraries.

optimist 4 years, 4 months ago

I didn't see anything in the story that indicated the tax/fee we pay on our phone service will expire with this de-funding. I'm not opposed to the plan to de-fund the program and put existing revenue into the general fund but the tax should be abolished immediately if the money isn't going to be used for what it was intended.

I'm not usually one to post comments of the following nature but a little better job of proof reading would be appreciated. There were several glaring errors, some of which made the story difficult to read.

BigDog 4 years, 4 months ago

If this funding comes from a FEE on phone lines it should go for what it was initially intended or the FEE should be removed. These FEE funds have no business going back into the state general fund.

This sneeky kind of crap like this is what upsets tax payers .... and reenforces their mistrust of politicians.

Bob_Keeshan 4 years, 4 months ago

So funny this happens on the same day Google announces a partnership with KCK, and that partnership is hailed for its economic development potential.

How many jobs will destroying Kan-Ed create?

Centerville 4 years, 4 months ago

The KCC is in the process of loading all sorts of pixie dust and unicorns on the Kansas Universal Service Fund. Ours is the almost four times more expensive than the federal USF and the whole thing has become a scam. A new Chairman (and some competent staff) over there can't come soon enough.

susiek 4 years, 4 months ago

The state is already operating a statewide network, this is definitely duplication of service. These could be combined and reduce administrative overhead. This would save money and provide better service to schools, hospitals and libraries.

Common_Sense 4 years, 4 months ago

The orginial Kan-Ed legislation prohibits government-run traffic on the network. Kan-Ed has been working to try and bring together the State, with local governments, for years and the legislature would not come onboard and make it happen. I agree that the two should be reviewed and looked; the potiental and savings could be great!

Common_Sense 4 years, 4 months ago

This whole thing is pure POLITICAL and it really stinks!!! Kan-Ed is essential to the State of Kansas and is recognized as an eligible entity by both the KCC and the FCC. Kan-Ed connects hundreds of K-12 schools, libraries, hospitals and higher education throughout the State with internet access and other networks to provide interactive distance learning and telemedicine. If Kan-Ed is eliminated, then all network and video connections, Renovo Video scheduler, licenses/servers, MCU, Kan-edLiveTutor.com (homework Kansas), Empowered Desktop and LS test builder, EMResource (hospitals ER database)....ALL GONE!!! These services are essential to the schools, hospitals and libraries in everyone's communities across the State! Kan-Ed is not competing against private industry! All the Kan-Ed services are purchased and/or leased from private companies! The private industry provides Kan-Ed’s network operations center in Lawrence! Many high-tech jobs will also be lost as well.

Our world is technology driven and we as a people, paying our 25 cents a month on our phone bill, invested in this statewide broadband network. (Approx. $100 Million over the last ten years.) And now the legislature wants to dismantle it (Kan-Ed) and throw away this investment that rivals other networks across the country! The legislature/governor has already made huge cuts to education and teachers/libraries need these programs now more than ever! It's our job as a society to educate our children...it’s everyone’s responsibility, so why shouldn’t we all pay into it! And our hospitals, particularly in rural areas, need these educational programs for staff and connection to other hospitals in order to save lives! This actually is more efficient and saves money; cutting down on travel, per diems, etc. Would any of the legislators on this committee want to seek medical assistance/treatment from an outdated hospital???

All in all, people better get ready! The committee says that Kan-Ed's membership should find other revenue sources.... Well, those hospitals and libraries will be heading straight to the local government (county commissions) looking to increase their budgets and your taxes to afford this, which will be at a much higher rate than a quarter a month! Also, the school board will need more money (raise taxes) to acquire programming for the classrooms! This is will be another example of an un-funded mandate on the local government tax base!!!

I for one, don't mind paying my quarter a month!!!!!!!!!!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 4 months ago

" Well, those hospitals and libraries will be heading straight to the local government (county commissions) looking to increase their budgets and your taxes to afford this,"

This was exactly my first thought when I read this article.

Bob_Keeshan 4 years, 4 months ago

“The funding stream needs to come from somewhere else than taxpayers at large,” said Rep. Pete DeGraaf, R-Mulvane.

Yeah, see, Rep. Pete DeGraaf says it won't come from taxes. And since he says so, that makes it true.

mloburgio 4 years, 4 months ago

Just another lie from the brownbelt express. Topeka — Sam Brownback’s road map for his campaign bus tour better have more detail than his policy “Road Map for Kansas.” If not, he’ll be lost and asking for directions, Democrats say. In Manhattan on Wednesday, he said his rural policy initiatives will be helping set up “free enterprise zones” in rural Kansas, and expanding broadband Internet in rural areas. “We have got to do a lot better in creating jobs in rural Kansas,” Brownback said.

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2010/aug... .

lalexan2 4 years, 2 months ago

Kan-Ed is just another example of the Republicans (better known as white trash looking for free money) wanting to ditch something that actually works for something that those who fund their war chests think competes with them. Kan-Ed is used widely in schools for many different purposes - including getting students ready for taking the state assessments that the legislators use as justification for cutting school funding. This is just another example of people who don't have a clue making a grand stand so they can say to their contributors that - yes, we tried to eliminate Kan-Ed so will you give us more money? We need money!

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