Archive for Thursday, September 27, 2012

Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund told to plan for big cuts

September 27, 2012


— The Kansas Children's Cabinet and Trust Fund, which promotes early-childhood programs in the state, has been warned that it could lose up to 75 percent of its budget next year because of a drop in money from a national lawsuit against tobacco companies.

Amanda Adkins, chairwoman of the cabinet, told the board Wednesday to prepare two recommendations — one that would assume the group would continue to receive $56 million in tobacco funds, with a second assuming it would receive only $12 million, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

"That is just the hard reality in which we find ourselves," Adkins said.

Kansas and 30 other states are currently in arbitration over provisions in the tobacco case settlement, leading to speculation that funding for the trust will be cut.

"Anybody that goes to arbitration is going to lose some money," said Mary Cohen, of the Barton P. & Mary D. Cohen Charitable Trust.

The cabinet receives its funding from a 1998 settlement with major tobacco companies. One of the provisions of that settlement required states to force smaller cigarette manufacturers to pay a $6 per carton fee to keep them from undercutting the bigger companies. The major manufacturers contend the states haven't enforced that agreement.

Since it began in the late 1990s, the children's cabinet anticipated the tobacco money funding its Children's Initiatives Fund would eventually decline. Some of the money was put into a Kansas Endowment for Youth fund meant to keep the programs solvent after the funding was reduced.

But the state Legislature raided the KEY fund so often since 2001 that the governor's office said in April that it only contained $261.

Board member Shannon Cotsoradis, president of Kansas Action for Children, said cutting back to $12 million would drastically reduce services that the Children's Initiative Fund supports.

"You're talking about a fund that serves hundreds of thousands of kids across the state," Cotsoradis said. "Do the math. We'd be talking about a lot of kids losing access to services when they're most vulnerable."

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt hasn't yet released an estimate of how much the tobacco settlement will bring in this year.

Cotsoradis said that if the funding drops because the state didn't enforce its part of the settlement, the state should find alternative money for the Children's Initiative Fund programs.

Adkins, also the chairwoman of the Kansas Republican Party, said she talked to Gov. Sam Brownback about finding other funding, but she couldn't say what other funding sources the governor could use for the cabinet.

Adkins told the board she is also interested in partnering with private-sector investors who have a commercial interest in the cabinet's mission.


deec 5 years, 8 months ago

More intentional privatization to the detriment of Kansas citizens. "Adkins told the board she is also interested in partnering with private-sector investors who have a commercial interest in the cabinet's mission."

Larry Sturm 5 years, 8 months ago

Maybe our elected officials would like to have their pay cut 75%. And pay their fair share of income tax.

kernal 5 years, 8 months ago

What is the nature of the early childhood programs which will be cut from loss of funding?

verity 5 years, 8 months ago

I would like to know the answer to that, too.

Briseis 5 years, 8 months ago

Smoking is bad for your health. Save the children by not spending money on cigarettes.

Fossick 5 years, 8 months ago

Actually, it's quite the opposite - smokers are the ones who are funding every penny of this. How's that for perverse incentives?

chootspa 5 years, 8 months ago

Yeah, but if you stop with the early education programs, you can get more proof that your other education programs aren't working and therefore also need to be cut and/or privatized. Self fulfilling prophesies are fun.

jafs 5 years, 8 months ago

Does anybody else find the provision that smaller cigarette manufacturers have to pay a fee so as not to undercut large ones odd?

I wonder how the big cigarette companies got that one through.

This settlement, to my knowledge, came about because of fraudulent advertising, right? So the idea was to punish those companies, and use the money to help with children's health. Why would we protect them from competition at the same time?

Fossick 5 years, 8 months ago

The settlement was based on states' claims of increased Medicaid costs - so from the beginning it seems to me that the money should have gone to Medicaid rather than to smarmy ad campaigns (remember "the Truth"?) and kids' programs.

Perhaps spending it on kids' programs was the states' way of creating permanent programs out of temporary funding.

"Kansas is one of 46 states that receives money as a result of the so-called Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, which was struck in November 1998 between the states and the nation's four leading cigarette companies to compensate the states for the costs they had incurred treating sick smokers. The companies agreed to pay a minimum of more than $200 billion over the first 25 years of the agreement."

Fossick 5 years, 8 months ago

"Why would we protect them from competition at the same time?"

You never cut the throat of a cow you're trying to milk.

Mike1949 5 years, 8 months ago

Yep, it all sounds pretty fishy to me also. The state should replace that money the took. Oops, sorry, already spent it by giving companies tax cuts!

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