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Archive for Wednesday, May 9, 2012

House debates whether to commission study on whether to sell KU Hospital

May 9, 2012

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— Some conservative Republicans in the House on Tuesday pushed for a provision to study the possible sale of the Kansas University Hospital.

State Rep. Gene Suellentrop, R-Wichita, sought to add the proposal to a budget bill that was debated late into the night.

But Democrats and moderate Republicans pushed back furiously.

“I think this is the wrong time, the wrong place and the wrong thing to be doing,” said state Rep. Bob Bethell, R-Alden.

House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, said the proposal “would be an awful decision” as the KU Cancer Center seeks National Cancer Institute designation.

Even House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, criticized the move. “This is not a problem that needs to be fixed,” he said.

After O’Neal spoke, Suellentrop took down his amendment, but said the discussion will continue among House Republicans.

Suellentrop’s amendment would have directed Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget director Steve Anderson appoint a group to study whether it would be viable to sell KU Hospital and report to state officials in January 2013.

“What this study may prove is that we should in fact sell the facility,” Suellentrop said. State Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, also spoke in favor the proposal.

But Bethell, Davis and state Reps. Don Hineman, R-Dighton, and TerriLois Gregory, R-Baldwin City, said there was no reason to consider selling the hospital because the hospital was a great asset to the state of Kansas and KU Medical Center.

Earlier, the House 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.

The House gave final approval to the budget on a 77-44 vote after nearly nine hours of debate.

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 waiting 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 Bethell.

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 Brownback's 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 Rep. Gregory won approval of adding $611,000 for the Communities in Schools program, which works to reduce the dropout rate.

Comments

mikekt 1 year, 11 months ago

The tea baggers are just being used because they are usable ( and as usual ) a little bit slow and often times purposefully mislead, by the "Wolfs IN Sheep's Clothing" who are here to clean up at everyones expense . Follow the Money; because there is money to be made by selling public assets, to private concerns. First you cut their budget, so KU MED CENTER ( KUMC ) will loose accreditation because they are under staffed ( because the RE-Publicans control the purse strings and can do and are doing that, as they can ). That would certainly lower the asking price of KUMC, to a potential private buyer. It's all just theater, for the slow of mind. Abortion deaths are just their VOODOO EXCUSE for big $ business as usual in the Re-Publican Party. Did death ever stop those folks from their military-industrial money making ways? Heck No! I hate to say it but Bernie Madoff played well to people who just wanted "there's", at 15%, per year, after magical year ( Their version of "the-magic-tax-cut" ) who maybe didn't care much about things that were beyond the scope of their daily personal expenses or public charitable goals. WOO-HOO!!! They fooled themselves! The stupid sought him out! Who forced them!? The "Baggers" have there "Bag Men & Bag Women" in Topeka, who are probably stealing the silverware as i type! Those folks will be just fine until they wake up to the fact that they and their families have been conned! Then we will all get to listen to them whine about the State Deficit & blame anyone but those they stood for at the ballot box..... & themselves. At least Bernie's victims blamed Bernie...... & got it part right!!!!!

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tange 1 year, 11 months ago

I'm holding out for bargain basement deals on legislative souls.

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Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 year, 11 months ago

Go look at the above article on how he republican facists in the state legislature are trying to zap the medical center because they have fabricated a link to their distaste of doctors who perform abotions, a legal and safe medical proceedure. Methinks the tea baggers are adding yet another noxious notion to their never ending crusade to enfringe on citizens rights to their medicale care because of their exgtremist beliefs in voodoo religion.

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billbodiggens 1 year, 11 months ago

Did someone say Misanthrope or was it Suellentrop? Is there a difference?

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oldbaldguy 1 year, 11 months ago

mikekt hit it on the nail. What's really behind Kancare? Anybody remember the original "Rollerball?" That's what is coming

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mikekt 1 year, 11 months ago

Somewhere there is a middle man, who is thinking to himself that the sale of KU Medical Center ( KUMC ) could be worth $600 Million, or so;... and if only he could "buy" enough politicians, he might get his 3% commission on the deal! 3% on $600 Million, would be $18Million in one fell swoop, if he could just mature the deal! Of course that all assumes that he's working as cheep as 3% or that KUMC was only worth $600 Million-try building that (KUMC) from scratch, at that location, with uncleared land full of houses, businesses & multiple owners, etc. Or maybe the deal would be worth 6%, if he could get the state to drop the price to $300 Million for his buyer. That would still be worth 18Million to a middle man! As they say in the State House in Topeka, "Let Us Prey....On The People Of Kansas"...& that's the correct spelling of the word Prey, according to it's intended meaning. Here we go again with more Re-Publicans looking for free lunch money at the expense of us all.

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JayhawksandHerd 1 year, 11 months ago

Goodness, these folks will have made satire irrelevant before it's said and done.

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verity 1 year, 11 months ago

"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.'"

So often people don't look at the actual bottom line to see the costs involved in a plan of action. I've certainly seen this in the private sector. High turnover---we can easily hire someone off the street to do the same job. Training not only takes the time of the new hire, but the person who has to train them. I've seen a lot of time being wasted by highly-qualified and efficient workers training and training and training new people. Often it takes at least six months to a year for a person to get up to speed---and then they might go on to a better paid job for which you have trained them, or they may never get up to speed.

And if a company or government entity has a reputation of paying poorly, the best people are not going to apply---except in a down market. Hmmmm, maybe that's why this administration is trying to destroy the economy.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 11 months ago

Why not just sign the title over to the Koch Bros.?

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FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 11 months ago

Sell it to The Flexible "composite girl lovin' Obama. He can make a VA "resort" hospital out of it.

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

Brownback is no republican = try radical Libertarian Facist

The violent crime numbers are up in the cities. Let’s take some time to think about this. Over the past 32 years and 3 republican administrations millions upon millions of USA jobs went abroad and crime is up. Bring on the jobs and the crime numbers will drop.

A lot of corporate CEO’s are making substantial millions . Then walking away with a retirement bonus again more millions aka golden parachutes. A lot of of these same corporations are flooding campaign cookie jars with substantial millions more. Now we are talking billions.

Isn’t it a result of hard working Americans that made corporate American industry what it is…can we say wealthy? Why does congress support tax relief on profits made abroad? MORE tax dollar loopholes? Plus tax dollar bailouts due to mismanagement or fraud…why?

Then WE Americans are told by corp America and too many politicians that American labor cost too much money. Considering all of the reckless and corrupt spending how is it that American labor cost too much money? Folks that is nothing but nonsense.

Hard working American workers do not deserve the shaft nor should hard working Americans be expected to hand out tax relief or to bailout big banks and USA mismanaged corporations.

Put millions back to work maintaining OUR federal highway system the way it should. My tax dollars want the feds to manage the entire operation. NOT corp America CEO’s and their golden parachutes. My tax dollars want a federal level highway and bridge maintenance system to prevent maintenance neglect.

Gov Sam Brownback spends to many millions of our tax dollars bribing corporate America.

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lawrenceguy40 1 year, 11 months ago

An excellent idea! The private sector is much more able to provide efficient and focused health care and education than a group of liberal government bureaucrats. The whole of KU should be sold off while there is still something to sell.

The education system serves only the liberal elite. Last month a neighbor needed work on his back hoe and was told he would have to wait three weeks before a mechanic could look at it because the company he uses couldn't recruit enough qualified mechanics. He spent all afternoon trying to find a mechanic and was told the same story several times. But at the same time we read how in barry o's panacea, graduate unemployment is at a record level. The liberals are training people in the magical elements of placenta eating, but disregarding the demand for vocational education. Private education would follow the money and last month the money was sitting in a back hoe waiting for a trained mechanic.

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Randall Uhrich 1 year, 11 months ago

Suellentrop: Another Repub;ican who gets his marching orders from ALEC. Is there no limit to the level that they will stoop?

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