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Archive for Saturday, March 3, 2012

Legislators see upcoming fights over major issues

March 3, 2012

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State Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, on Saturday speaks with attendees at the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce's Eggs and Issues breakfast held at the Eldridge Hotel. Legislators provided an update on the 2012 legislative session.

State Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, on Saturday speaks with attendees at the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce's Eggs and Issues breakfast held at the Eldridge Hotel. Legislators provided an update on the 2012 legislative session.

State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, speaks Saturday with Paul Bahnmaier, president of the Lecompton Historical Society, after the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce's Eggs and Issues breakfast.

State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, speaks Saturday with Paul Bahnmaier, president of the Lecompton Historical Society, after the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce's Eggs and Issues breakfast.

Douglas County legislators said Saturday that major political battles over taxes, school finance and redistricting are lining up for the rest of the 2012 legislative session.

State Rep. Ann Mah, D-Topeka, said the session could match the record 107-day session of 2002 because of redistricting fights alone.

Her comment came before about 75 people who attended the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce Eggs and Issues breakfast at the Eldridge Hotel.

The panel of legislators included only Democrats — state Sens. Marci Francisco of Lawrence, Tom Holland of Baldwin City, and Reps. Paul Davis of Lawrence and Mah. Three Republican legislators — Anthony Brown of Eudora, TerriLois Gregory of Baldwin City and Tom Sloan of Lawrence — were invited but had previous commitments, as did state Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence.

Others on the panel said that much of the Legislature’s energy has been taken up pushing back against proposals from Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican.

“The story of the session so far is that the governor put forward major initiatives, and most of those initiatives don’t appear to be going anywhere right now,” said Davis, who is the House minority leader.

The legislators said Brownback’s proposal to reduce income tax rates and eliminate taxes for tens of thousands of businesses, while getting rid of deductions and keeping in place what was supposed to be a temporary sales tax increase, has proven unpopular.

“If you hear a beep, beep, beep sound coming from the west, it’s everybody backing away from the governor’s tax plan,” Mah said.

Brownback has said his proposal would spur the economy and create jobs.

On education funding, Brownback has proposed an overhaul of the school finance system that would eliminate state limits on local property taxes for education and junk the system of providing extra funds to offset additional costs of educating students with learning obstacles. Brownback has said the current system is broken, and his plan would give local districts more say-so in school funding.

“I have never bought into the governor’s rationale that the current finance formula is broken. We just haven’t put money into it,” Holland said, noting that the state has cut base state aid to school districts for several years because of budget constraints. Democrats have supported a plan to start restoring funds to schools over several years, using a portion of the state’s growing surplus.

Holland and Davis said there is also discontent among Republicans and Democrats over Brownback’s plan to convert Medicaid to a managed care system run by private insurance companies. They said Brownback needs to take a more cautious approach toward changing the system that provides health care for more than 350,000 Kansans.

The Legislature has also embarked on the once-a-decade process of redrawing congressional, legislative and State Board of Education boundaries to accommodate population shifts.

Davis described some of the congressional district proposals that have emerged in the House as “the goofiest you have ever seen.” He criticized them, saying, “The theme that runs through all of them is trying to protect the four incumbent congresspersons into perpetuity.”

On arts funding, an issue that erupted last year when Brownback’s veto made Kansas the first state to stop funding the arts, Francisco said there is movement to form a new Creative Industries Commission.

But she said it must be adequately funded. Brownback has proposed about $90,000 in additional funding, but Francisco said about $800,000 is needed “to make this a workable plan.” After Brownback’s veto of $689,000 in arts funding, the state lost access to $1.3 million in federal arts funds.

Legislators also voiced opposition to a proposal to move the public pension system to one that is more like a 401(k) system. They said the state needs to provide more funding to the current system because it has shorted it for many years.

Comments

Alceste 2 years, 9 months ago

Remember, boys and girls, about the sweetheart payout these political hacks have given themselves:

Everyone know that our ever so dedicated Legislators in Topeka participate in KPERS too, right? After all, they're state workers also. But, guess what? These legislators set up a very special system for how they get their KPERS benefits calculated. Here it is in a nutshell:

Legislators "work" 372 days a year!! That's right....Kansas has established a 372 day year! Well, for "hard(ly) working" legislators, anyway. Leave it to a political hack to figure that one out!

For the legislator listing all income from being a legislator - the daily rate, subsistence and allowance - this is how annualization is calculated:

•$88.66 (daily rate) x 31 (days) x 12 (months) = $32,981.52

•$123 (subsistence) x 31 (days) x 12 (months) = $45,756

•$7,083 non-session allowance.

Altogether, that equals $85,820.52, and that's the pay figure that would be used for that legislator retiring now. A legislator retiring with an annualized pay of $85,820.52, and with 10 years' service, would have an annual KPERS benefit of $15,018.60, for a monthly benefit of $1,251.55, according to KPERS. If the retiring legislator had 20 years' service, the annual benefit would be $30,037.20, and monthly, $2,503.10.

The Senate president and House speaker are at the top of the pay scale, and annualized pay for those posts could be as high as $99,859.74, depending on their enrollment choices.

This guy Morris who is the President of the Kansas Senate has even been quoted as saying he deserves that kind of KPERS benefit because he is so underpaid!!! Man, this is some amusing stuff!!! Aren't legislators supposed to be servants of the people? Isn't the common thinking that people run for office, not to get rich, but to serve? We sure do think stupid real good like in this state: The people who do the day to day work which make Kansas run have their KPERS figured one way.....and the galoots who pose for 3 months a year as "legislators" get to figure their KPERS benefit in a totally different manner.....to the point where they've invented a new calendar: 372 days in a year and they work each and every one of them!! Woo Hoo!!!

kochmoney 2 years, 9 months ago

I understand that this is your hobby horse, but moving the whole thing to a 401k would cost the taxpayers more than it would to keep them on KPERS. Let them decide that the 401k idea is lousy and then pressure them to get the same benefits as their secretaries.

Alceste 2 years, 9 months ago

They're....as in the legislators....hopeless and hapless hacks who can suck eggs with the payoff they've given themselves and which most of the state of Kansas was wholly unaware of, Alceste included.

The mere fact not a single one of them has the gumption to apologize for this corrupt and specious benefit only further underscores just how hack like each and every one of them is.

SB338, New Section 18 addresses, quietly, what's what. http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2011_12/measures/documents/sb338_00_0000.pdf

This same group of hacks allowed KPERS to approach D- status, one of the most underfunded (40th in the Nation. See: http://assets.thefiscaltimes.com/TFT2_20101228/App_Data/MediaFiles/8/A/7/%7B8A7FE094-134E-4AE4-AF90-392E8F0DBA7E%7D03222011_State_Pensions_2.1.pdf ) state retirement plans in the Nation, very easily and willfully.

The bottom line is that Kansas shall be compelled to modify it's retirement plan into a 401(k) type situation for new hires whether anybody wants it or not. Call it a Hybrid plan as many states have already done. Why? Because of the willfull and shamelessly disgusting unctuous behavior of these dopes which has placed the retirment of loyal Kansas civil servants in harms way. And how.

It shall be a Hybrid plan as many states have already done. Read it and weap. Here's the link again: http://assets.thefiscaltimes.com/TFT2_20101228/App_Data/MediaFiles/8/A/7/%7B8A7FE094-134E-4AE4-AF90-392E8F0DBA7E%7D03222011_State_Pensions_2.1.pdf

kochmoney: Why not ask Davis, Francisco, Ballard, Sloan, et. all what they're doing about the payoff? People like Francisco and Ballard aren't in the deal because they've got an even better payoff coming from that Regent's plan, by the way. You'll find, if you trouble yourself to get involved, that all you'll get is double-speak. Republican. Democrat. They're all cut from the same cloth when one gets right down to it.

Alceste 2 years, 9 months ago

lay down with DOGS.....pick up fleas. No Thanks.

wastewatcher 2 years, 9 months ago

THE DEMS are looking for reasons to complain and gripe but they must remember that the citizens spoke loudly when they rejected Holland and his views and chose Brownback. Holland has had his chance to convince the voters and he was soundly rejected, it is now time for him to respect the wishes of the voters and help the Governor govern!!!!!!

George_Braziller 2 years, 9 months ago

Brownback's approval rating as Governor is in the toilet. The moderate Republicans have already distanced themselves from any association and now conservative Republicans are starting to do it as well. The ultra-conservative religious factions of the party are the only only place where he has support and even some of them are starting to waiver.

kochmoney 2 years, 9 months ago

Is that why Brownie has a 29% approval rating? Sometimes voters just pick the guy with the name they recognize and don't pay attention to his actual record. Just sayin'.

jafs 2 years, 9 months ago

Approximately 1/2 of the "citizens" stayed home and didn't vote.

Of the remaining 1/2, approximately 2/3 voted for Brownback.

That means that he was elected by approximately 1/3 of the eligible voters in KS.

volunteer 2 years, 9 months ago

Ann Mah represents my district and faces the same opponent (Becky Tea Party or someone) who came within a handful of votes of defeating her last election. That legislative pension scheme makes even thoughtful voters think twice about incumbents.

Michael LoBurgio 2 years, 9 months ago

Tell Governor Brownback and Kansas Legislators: Fund our schools fairly and meet the needs of Kansas children

By cutting public school funding in 2011 and proposing an inadequate new school funding formula in 2012, Governor Brownback has sent a clear message that he does not value a high quality public education for all Kansas children.

Taking funds away from our schools leads to:

larger class sizes; children having less time with their teachers; increased levels of academic failure and dropout rates; and diminishing the excellent public education Kansas parents, teachers,

    and employers expect.

The governor and his allies in the legislature claim we “cannot afford” to maintain our educational system yet they want to grant even more tax cuts to wealthy individuals and corporations. Our schools and the funding formula are not broken. The only thing broken is our promise to our children and the future they face. If the legislature adopts the governor’s plan, our children will be denied the opportunity to succeed at their highest levels.

Kansans need to sign up! The future of our children and their ability to succeed is at stake. Will we settle for mediocrity and decline?

Will you be a voice for our children? Please sign your name to this petition and tell the governor and legislature to fund education and meet the needs of our children. http://www.ksmadness.com/

notasheeple 2 years, 9 months ago

Not sure how it will all play out in Kansas in the end, but the inadequately funded pension fund problem is killing state governments, municipalities, and corporations everywhere. Many are predicated on the assumption that 8-10% returns can be sustained on an annual basis and were funded accordingly. When the beneficiaries of such plans find out that the pension they counted on will not be paid, they will not be happy. ' After all, that which can NOT be paid...

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