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Archive for Sunday, March 25, 2012

Capitol Briefing: Remedial education, abortion, and Schmidt and health care reform

March 25, 2012

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Remedial education, school tax credits in House

Two major policy changes in education may be debated in the House today.

House Bill 2745, championed by House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, would stop state funding of remedial education courses at Kansas University and other universities.

KU offers one remedial course, intermediate algebra, which has an average of 900 students each fall. KU officials say many of those enrolled are returning to college after a break of several years, military students or others starting a second career.

The other measure before the full House is HB 2767, called the Kansas Education Liberty Program Act. It is being pushed by state Rep. Clay Aurand, R-Courtland, who is the chairman of the House Education Committee.

This would give tax credits to those who contribute to a scholarship fund to pay for students to attend private or parochial schools. Aurand says this would give some parents more choice in finding schools that best fit the needs of their children. Critics say the bill amounts to tax support of religious schools.

Brownback mum on KU Med Center, abortion issue

Gov. Sam Brownback refused to say where he stood over legislative efforts aimed at stopping Kansas University Medical Center medical residents in obstetrics-gynecology from training in abortion-related procedures.

“I’m studying the issue,” Brownback said at a news conference.

Abortion rights advocates, and even some legislators who have opposed abortion, say the medical residents need the training to maintain KU’s accreditation and to be able to handle emergency pregnancies. But anti-abortion advocates disagree.

Brownback has signed into law several anti-abortion measures and has welcomed the Legislature’s work in this area.

Quote of the week

“This bill would send our state to hell in a handbasket.”

— Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, on a Senate-approved bill that cuts billions of dollars in taxes, including personal income tax rates and sales taxes, and eliminates taxes on nonwage income for nearly 200,000 businesses.

A.G. to hear health care arguments

Attorney General Derek Schmidt will travel to Washington, D.C., for the U.S. Supreme Court arguments about the federal health care law.

“This is a landmark case,” Schmidt said. “The outcome of this lawsuit could tell us if there are any remaining limits on the power of the federal government over states and individual citizens.”

Schmidt, a Republican, said he will meet daily with attorneys general from other plaintiff states and with the states’ attorneys arguing the case. He will be in the courtroom Wednesday when the court hears arguments about the Medicaid expansion provisions in the law.

Schmidt’s office said he is paying for the trip with personal funds.

Former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement is representing the states. Kansas Solicitor General Steve McAllister helped Clement prepare for the arguments.

What’s next:

Most legislative action this week will be in conference committees and on the floor of the House and Senate as the Legislature pushes toward first adjournment.

Comments

Michael LoBurgio 2 years, 8 months ago

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger doesn't agree with Derek Schmidt and the rest of the kansas tea party on the affordable care act!

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger believes there are too many good things in the Affordable Care Act to be overturned by the court system or Congress after the presidential election.

“I think it will be very hard to overturn the law,” she said. “When you really pin people down, there are lots of aspects of this law that people like.”

Among them:

• Elimination of annual and lifetime limits on insurance coverage. She said often those who need insurance coverage the most can’t get it, and that’s why so many Americans end up in bankruptcy. She said medical care is the No. 1 reason for U.S. bankruptcy.

• Elimination of pre-existing medical conditions. People will no longer be denied insurance coverage because of illness or previous health conditions. “Today, you most likely wouldn’t get coverage if you’ve had cancer. You would be denied,” she said.

• No co-pays or deductibles on preventive services, such as annual wellness exams. “Early detection of a disease or problem can be cost-effective, and the outcomes are often better. It’s a win-win,” she said.

• Allowing children to stay on their health insurance plan until age 26. She said about 2.5 million children are now insured nationally because of this provision, which already has been implemented.

“The bottom line is we need to get to a point where everyone can get the health care they need,” Praeger said. Not only is it a moral thing, she said, but costs will continue to escalate for those who pay for insurance if something isn’t done.

She said insurance companies estimate that 25 to 30 percent of the premiums they charge are to help cover uncompensated care.

chootspa 2 years, 8 months ago

"The other measure before the full House is HB 2767, called the Kansas Education Liberty Program Act. It is being pushed by state Rep. Clay Aurand, R-Courtland, who is the chairman of the House Education Committee."

They should rename it the "Sneaky Koch Tax Break Act." As the bill currently stands, you can get a tax credit of up to $100,000 (and excesses can be carried for up to three years) that goes to fund "scholarships" for private and parochial schools. You know, the sort of steps toward a full voucher program that the Koch "think" tank and ALEC have been pushing for. Your taxpayer money being diverted to pay for religious schools and for-profit privates. Schools with no better track record than public schools in the largest studies done on the issue, btw.

A credit of up to $100,000 per year? That's a gift for the ultra wealthy, wrapped up in a pretty bow. Even more so when you see that the $100,000 allows rollovers for three years, so you could donate a one time gift of $400,000 and remove that income from all tax liability in your effort to fund religious schools. How much do you want to bet we'll find ALEC model legislation with exactly the same wording?

Ok - looking further down on this bill. The scholarship is 75% of the base state aid. While low income and special ed students get priority, those low income students are probably not going to be able to afford the remaining tuition. Tuition at most of these schools is already higher than the base per pupil aid, so the average family will end up having to fork out an extra $2000 or so per student. I doubt the majority of takers will end up being low income.

Hopefully the state constitutional bar on taxpayer funding for religious schools will take issue with this runaround, but I wouldn't count on it.

Cait McKnelly 2 years, 8 months ago

The "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" should be changed to "Legalized Lying to Pregnant Women Act".

chootspa 2 years, 8 months ago

That, too. Also the "Let KU Lose Accreditation Act."

littlexav 2 years, 8 months ago

"KU officials say many of those enrolled are returning to college after a break of several years, military students or others starting a second career." Many, but not all, or even most. MOST of those are kids that goofed off in high school or goofed off in Calc at KU and had to "start over." If you're not serious enough to learn algebra in high school, and/or if you can't spend $29.95 to brush up with a book from Barnes & Noble, then maybe you should take some time off before going (or going back) to college. Just my two cents.

chootspa 2 years, 8 months ago

Really? Have you got the data analysis to back up your findings? I suspect that if KU agreed with you, they'd have already dropped their remedial course.

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