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Archive for Tuesday, May 8, 2012

House rejects state employee raises, allocates funds for disabled

May 8, 2012

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— The Kansas House on Tuesday voted to take $50 million from the transportation department to give schools an increase as it put its budget together to face off with the Senate with the legislative session nearing its scheduled conclusion.

In another decision on the $14.4 billion budget, House Republicans, who hold a strong majority, rejected several efforts by Democrats to provide a pay raise to state employees, who haven't had an increase in three years.

But on a close vote, 60-56, the House approved allocating $5.8 million to reduce waitings lists for services for those with physical and developmental disabilities and senior citizens.

The amendment by state Rep. Jerry Henry, D-Cummings, attracted Republicans too as the federal government has indicated it is looking into the waiting lists.

"The problem is we have 7,357 individuals who are not receiving services who the federal government says should be," said state Rep. Bob Bethell, R-Alden.

Added state Rep. Mike Kiegerl, R-Olathe, said, "We are too well off to disregard the disabled."

But state employees did not fare well.

A one percent pay increase was rejected, as was a proposal to fund a plan to assist state employees who earn below market-value, and another measure aimed at raising pay for employees at critically under-staffed state mental health hospitals.

State Rep. Ann Mah, D-Topeka, said failing to adequately pay state employees was costing the state more in the long run because of high turnover rates and having to re-train new employees.

She said 1,500 state employees qualify for food stamps "so what we don't pay in salary, we pay for in welfare."

State Rep. Annie Tietze, D-Topeka, urged colleagues to provide a one percent pay raise for state employees, noting the state's growing budget surplus of approximately $600 million. "We have the money. There comes a time when what we have to do is right," Tietze said.

Under the House pay-go rule, the money for the payraise — $10 million — had to come from another area of the budget, which in this instance was from a fund in the attorney general's office to pay for water litigation. Several legislators said those litigation funds were too important to tap for a payraise.

Tietze's effort failed, 55-63.

Another pay raise measure for state hospitals that are facing large numbers of unfilled positions was also rejected.

The House school funding plan would spend $25 million to increase base state aid by $37 per student, and the remaining $25 million would help school districts on property taxes. The dollars would come from revenues within the Kansas Department of Transportation.

The Senate budget would add $50 million for base aid, which equals $74 per pupil. It would also add $27 million to help on property taxes. The Senate proposes to get the funding from the state's growing surplus.

The 2012 session is scheduled to end Friday, although it can be extended. Legislators also are far from resolving differences on taxes and redistricting.

On using transportation dollars for schools, some House members said it wasn't wise to keep using "the bank of KDOT." But the amendment by state Rep. Clay Aurand, R-Belleville, was approved 99-17.

State Rep. Steve Huebert, R-Valley Center, tried to dedicate half of the proposed base state aid increase to reading programs for students in kindergarten through fourth grade, saying improving reading scores of young students was a priority of Gov. Sam Brownback and crucial for student success.

But several Democrats and Republicans argued against Huebert's amendment, saying that local districts were in a better position to decide how to spend the funds.

The lengthy budget debate covered a wide range of policy options as the House staked out positions against the Senate.

A proposal by state Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, to maintain the current system of providing longterm care services for those with developmental disabilities failed 54-65.

Brownback wants to bring those services within his proposed privatization of Medicaid, although he has agreed to a one-year delay.

"This is really a bad idea to put the most vulnerable Kansans in a risky scheme," Ward said. But House Majority Leader Arlen Siegfreid, R-Olathe, urged the House to stick with the the one-year delay that Brownback had agreed to.

An amendment by state Rep. Sheryl Spalding, R-Overland Park, aimed at freeing up more funds for children's programs was approved.

State Rep. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora, succeeded in adding an amendment that would require the use of the federal database E-Verify to check the citizenship status of employees working for businesses on state contracts worth $50,000 or more.

And state Rep. TerriLois Gregory, R-Baldwin City, won approval of adding $611,000 for the Communities in Schools program, which works to reduce the dropout rate.

Comments

Tammy Copp-Barta 2 years, 6 months ago

SO .. what if all of the state employees took the same day or two off of work and left the state hanging to see the impact of what they do. Like when classes at the colleges are starting and it affects customer service and money into the state. Or the staff at the capital building who are being paid to coddle these same legislatures. Or any of the numerous state paid employees out there that make life better for other Kansans - even though some of you complain about state employees - most of them DO work hard. Maybe the only way to see how many people are affected by the no pay increase decision is for them to actually see it up front.

Biscayne 2 years, 6 months ago

GREAT COMMENT! That does need to happen.

Carol Bowen 2 years, 6 months ago

I disagree with your comments. New computer systems never work right the first day. In fact, I would expect more glitches. With the tight budget and political pressure, they probably could not afford time for simulation.

From lots of personal experience, I can tell you that Medicare runs much better than private insurance. However, fedgov does not run the health care system. That option was dropped. By the way, insurance companies have made record profits since the onset of the Affordable Care Act.

JayhawkFan1985 2 years, 6 months ago

How many year did you spend in the third grade?

JayhawkFan1985 2 years, 6 months ago

In case it wasn't clear, I'm speaking to rock chalk.

verity 2 years, 6 months ago

"Maybe the only way to see how many people are affected by the no pay increase decision is for them to actually see it up front."

Wouldn't change their minds one bit as their minds are set in cement. They would only complain about the bad service and use that as evidence that state employees are no good. Can't change the mind of an ideologue.

jackpot 2 years, 6 months ago

Wonder how much the DOJ had to do with this?

Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years, 6 months ago

We really need to clean up the whole entitlement system. Why in the world are we paying able bodied people to sit at home and do nothing. Many of which are sleeping till noon, working for cash and even smoking pot, while the ones of us who support them get to enjoy the alarm clock before the sun comes up.

If those who really needed the assistance were the ones who got it, there would be plenty of money for our state employees. No one is against helping children, the elderly or the disabled, but able bodied people should be required to work if they want to eat.

JayhawkFan1985 2 years, 6 months ago

You're suggesting retired people on social security should get jobs?

Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years, 6 months ago

I guess you choose to defend these people that are sucking the system dry and sucking funds from those who actually need them.

You can look right into the eyes of our bloated government, the environmentalists, and welfare to work types that have zero clue how to do even the most simple things and see exactly why there are no jobs. This includes protecting illegals and relatives who have no intension of working again the rest of their lives.

There are plenty of jobs out there for those who are not full of tats, BO, metal, pull their pants up etc. They just think the jobs that they have lined themselves up for are under them.

As long as we coddle the miscreants and loosers, the further the decline.

What would you say if I rented a bus and had it at Westlakes every morning at 7am ready to pick up all the welfare and unemployment types and hauled them to Clinton Lake for a day of work cleaning the park? Would you still feel the same way about where are the jobs? I'll bet a couple days of honest work for these moochers, and you could not find a job at McDonalds.

pace 2 years, 6 months ago

And your plan to pay these people would be? I thought all the layoffs of government workers and cuts to maintaining infrastructure are Brownback's and your kind of tea? Or would your make not having a job a crime and make them pay by doing work for the state for free? You push for less jobs, less infrastructure, less services, less value, but you can afford a bus and to pay people for odd ball clean up day rather than having regular employees? You can not build a future on that kind of plan, one of stupid economic remedies. A person who wants a real job to support his family and have a real life needs a real job rather than a day cleaning up after litter bugs with no pay and no future. Your job plan stinks, but it is better than the NO plan for jobs, nothing has been offered by the gops, except things like this or tax cuts to billionaires.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years, 6 months ago

Thats where you don't get it. They are getting paid to do nothing. If we made them do something then ... well trolls like you would never understand.

Pace... are you related to Bozo and Merrill?

Jayhawk1958 2 years, 6 months ago

Why don't you take a $7.50 per hour job and report back to me?

pace 2 years, 6 months ago

You didn't answer where you were going to get the money or the bus. Some of these people are out of work directly due to the state cuts. Suddenly you have jobs. half baked idea, no funding source, picking up one day work with a bus, I suppose the bus driver is you and you are working for free. call me a troll, but answer the question. Your job plan stinks, but it is better than the NO plan for jobs, nothing has been offered by the gops, except things like this or tax cuts to billionaires. Your plan is a stupid plan, to take people on unemployment and make them work for free picking up trash, They need real jobs, not your idea of punishment.

pace 2 years, 6 months ago

You call names but you sure didn't have the guts to address the question. I will say, even though the idea is stupid and I doubt it would get funding or even a bus or driver. It is better than the do nothing GOP plan. You are deceiving yourself to think people don't want jobs. People are losing their homes, their health insurance, families are splitting up. My Dad faced the same issues, the ccc camp work not only served him, it served the country.
Where is the funding for even the darn bus. Do you have anything, here except name calling when some one calls you on your "plan"?

JayhawkFan1985 2 years, 6 months ago

You need to have a beer and chill out. Not everyone is sucking the marrow from your bones. Most people are productive members of society. Most people who aren't still get summer vacations...though you probably want them to work at the county farm...

pace 2 years, 6 months ago

I don't care if the federal requirements or if the constituents of the legislatures pushed reducing the waiting list. I am thankful that at least got attention. Too many people were suffering and dying on the waiting list. It was inhumane.

Carol Bowen 2 years, 6 months ago

"But on a close vote, 60-56, the House approved allocating $5.8 million to reduce waitings lists for services for those with physical and developmental disabilities and senior citizens."

Wasn't the budget for the disabled cut something like $20 million? I doubt $5.8 million will slow down the federal review and possible court case.

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