Revving up revenues
Remember the tax cuts engineered by then-Gov. Sam Brownback? And recall how those tax cuts were followed, month after month and year after year by state tax revenue shortfalls?
Turns out their impact was underestimated all the time. And so the reversal of those tax cuts means more money than lawmakers had bargained on.
Stephen Koranda tells us that a new report raises the state’s projected tax collections for the current budget year by $300 million, about 4.5 percent.
Yet Kansas House Speaker Ron Ryckman, a Republican, still thinks that Democratic governor-elect Laura Kelly has more ambitious plans than the state’s finances can handle. She wants to expand Medicaid and deliver more money to local school districts.
Ryckman is raising questions about whether the state can afford those expenses while paying for its roads, putting its state retirement system on a path to solvency and still cover education spending increases that have already been approved.
“I’d love to see,” he said, “how she pencils this thing out.”
Earlier this year, the Kansas Legislature approved some telemedicine practices. But it banned the prescribing of drug-induced abortions over long-distance medical care.
Now a clinic in Wichita that provides abortions, Trust Women, is suing to prevent that law from taking effect at the start of next year.
Telemedicine, Trust Women founder and CEO Julie Burkhart told Dan Margolies, “is a way for us to reach underserved communities and a way to expand access to abortion care.”
Kansas already requires a physician to be present for medication abortions. The procedure entails the administration of two pills — one in the clinic and the other outside the clinic. The complication rate is low.
Location, location, location
Rural America has been emptying out for more than a century. The latest U.S. Department of Agriculture report on life in the boondocks finds an anomaly. For the first time in seven years, the country’s overall rural population grew — ever so slightly.
The increase — just 0.08 percent — comes mainly from tourist spots and the spillover of growth in more populated areas typically within about an hour’s drive of a major city.
Amenities — scenery, hiking, biking, fishing and skiing — tend to make all the difference.
Employment in rural areas, reports Madelyn Beck at Harvest Public Media, has not recovered as well in rural areas as it has in urban and suburban parts of the country.
Best place to see brake lights
All those people. All that money. All that traffic.
No place in Kansas in knows congestion quite like U.S. 69 in Overland Park. The Kansas City Star reports that stretch of road is the most congested four-lane highway in the state. It sees 80,000 vehicles per day — seemingly all of them lined up when you need to go north or south in Johnson County.
Some folks in Overland Park are trying to widen the bottleneck to six lanes from Interstate 435 South to 159th Street (despite counterintuitive research suggesting that adding highways only makes traffic worse).
The second-ranking executive at what might be the coolest tourist stop in the state -- Hutchinson’s Cosmosphere — is bolting.
Tracey Tomme is leaving to become president and chief executive officer of the Dayton Society of Natural History in Ohio, reports The Hutchinson News. Jim Remar remains as president and CEO at the Cosmosphere.
While at the aviation and space museum, Tomme led efforts to increase participation and diversity in programs at the museum. She started an all-girls camp and reached out to the children of migrant worker families.
Scott Canon is digital editor of the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach him on Twitter @ScottCanon.
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