- Policy & Research
- About KHI
Originally published May 20, 2012 at 6:48 p.m., updated May 30, 2012 at 8:59 a.m.
TOPEKA CORRECTION APPENDED
The Kansas Legislature ended its longest ever wrap-up session on Sunday evening after both chambers worked through the weekend and finally agreed to a budget plan.
Negotiators worked until about midnight Saturday to strike the accord that emerged after about 40 rounds of talks between the House and Senate budget bargaining teams.
Subsequent endorsements of the plan by both chambers ended one of the most contentious sessions in recent memory.
At least one major issue - the redrawing of political boundaries for the coming elections - was left unresolved. Legislators stayed so sharply apart on that issue that they left it for the courts to settle.
They also failed to agree on creating a new legislative committee to oversee the implementation of KanCare, the governor's proposed Medicaid makeover, which is scheduled to begin Jan. 1, 2013, pending federal approvals. The rejection of a conference committee report that would have created the KanCare committee was one of the last things the House did before gaveling out.
Legislators completed the session having passed a massive tax-cut package that Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is expected to sign into law. Disagreements over taxes helped complicate the wrap-up session and stall budget negotiations.
GOP conservatives, particularly in the House, were pleased with the tax bill, which they believe will stimulate economic growth.
"I couldn't be more proud of where we ended up," House Speaker Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, told fellow members of the House GOP caucus. "I'm very proud of the extremely strong and aggressive agenda that the governor brought to us."
But others are concerned about the impact the tax bill will have on the budget and state spending. The reductions in individual income tax rates and the elimination of some business taxes will create a deficit of between $2.4 billion and $2.9 billion by fiscal 2018, according to projections by the nonpartisan Kansas Legislative Research Department. Democrats and moderate Republican leaders in the Senate said the tax cuts will force deep reductions in future spending for schools and social services.
"The moment Gov. Brownback signs his tax plan into law, Kansas will be on a collision course with a massive deficit, making this budget nothing more than an empty promise," said House Minority Leader Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat.
Legislators ultimately authorized about $14.3 billion in total spending for fiscal 2013, including about $6.1 billion from the state general fund. It was about $50 million more than the governor had recommended once adjustments for the current fiscal year were counted.
Among the health-related budget items agreed to in House Substitute for Senate Bill 294 were the addition of $3.6 million in state dollars to help reduce waiting lists for home- and community-based services for disabled people eligible for Medicaid. Counting federal matching funds, it would boost spending on the waiting lists by $8.2 million.
According to projections, the additional dollars would reduce the waiting list for the developmentally disabled by 97 people and the waiting list for the physically disabled by 201 people.
The waiting lists have prompted complaints to federal officials that the state is possibly in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The complaints have been referred to the U.S. Department of Justice. It wasn't immediately clear what the additional spending might mean with regards to the investigation.
Also in the budget was about $882,000 to eliminate a waiting list of about 340 people seeking services from the Senior Care Act program, which helps keep elderly people in their homes and out of nursing homes. The House had proposed spending an additional $433,000 for the Meals on Wheels program, which also helps seniors. But the Senate did not allow for that funding and it did not make the final budget bill.
The budget bill included provisions that would consolidate various grant programs for preventing domestic violence in the Governor's Office. There would be $4.3 million total for domestic violence prevention grants, which previously were administered at the Attorney General's Office. Some local domestic violence programs that use dollars administered by the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services had signaled late in the session that they no longer wanted to participate in contracts with SRS because of new agency contracting requirements. A proposal by Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, to also shift the SRS domestic violence funds to the Governor's Office did not make it into the final budget plan.
The budget included $1.5 million in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, for renovations at Rainbow Mental Health Facility in Kansas City that will allow 14 beds to be reopened there. State officials were forced to close the beds in 2011 after federal inspectors said the facility was understaffed.
Also included was $1.9 million and approval of 23 full-time positions at Larned State Hospital to help deal with understaffing problems at the facility.
Legislators couldn't agree on bills creating a special KanCare oversight committee. They also approved $500,000 of the $1 million that the governor had sought to create a new Medicaid Reform Health Savings Account program as part of KanCare. The House had agreed to the full sum but the Senate opposed it and the compromise reached on that particular item during budget negotiations was the $500,000.
Lawmakers rejected the governor's request for authority to spend $1 million for a statewide "education" program to inform Medicaid providers and beneficiaries about KanCare in the lead-up to its launch. They approved $1 million the governor had sought to update the Medicaid Management Information System for KanCare.
They also included in the budget bill a provision that would delay for a year the inclusion of long-term services for the developmentally disabled in the KanCare program. But the measure included language sought by the governor and the House that would allow local programs that provide the long-term services to voluntarily participate in a KanCare pilot program as soon as KanCare begins.
Affordable Care Act
The House earlier had sought a provision that would have prevented the Kansas Insurance Department from spending about $1.2 million in federal grants to help implement the Affordable Care Act, the controversial health reform law that Kansas is challenging in the U.S. Supreme Court along with 25 other states. But the Senate rejected the provision, so that prohibition was not included in the final budget bill.
The budget includes $150,000 in continued funding for the mental health advocacy and outreach services provided by Keys for Networking and the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Kansas and adds $1.8 million for screening of people seeking admission to inpatient psychiatric facilities.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly characterized the consolidation of domestic violence programs in the Governor's Office. The consolidation included a program from the Attorney General's Office but did not include a program administered by the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. An earlier version also failed to note that legislators approved $500,000 of the $1 million sought by the Brownback administration to implement a health savings account program in conjunction with the governor's KanCare plan.
The KHI News Service is an editorially independent initiative of the Kansas Health Institute and is committed to timely, objective and in-depth coverage of health issues and the policy making environment. Find more about the News Service at khi.org/newsservice or contact us at (785) 783-2529.