Gov. Laura Kelly

Kansas senators met Tuesday to formally vote down Gov. Laura Kelly’s nomination for a Court of Appeals seat. In a strange twist, even Kelly wanted her nominee rejected.

The outcome was already known before lawmakers returned to Topeka for the single vote.

The stakes run high for 130,000-some low-income Kansans who stand to gain from expanding Medicaid coverage — and for the political players who will decide the contentious issue.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly made expansion a centerpiece of the election that put her in office. Two Republican leaders — Senate President Susan Wagle and Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning — could see their elevation to higher office also turn on the issue.

Grievances generated by policy and personality clashes in a southeast Kansas community have spilled onto the statewide stage in the battle over Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s nominee to head the state Department of Commerce.

David Toland often found himself at odds with Virginia Crossland-Macha when he was the CEO of Thrive Allen County, a community health-improvement and economic development organization based in Iola.

The last week might have been easier for Gov. Laura Kelly if every staffer and appointee had stuck to sharing cat photos on Twitter instead of political opinions.

The Kansas GOP pounced quickly on her newly formed Democratic administration for the social media transgressions of its people. With divided government in Topeka, GOP leaders won’t miss a chance to point out potential errors.

Republicans in the Kansas Senate seem ready to end a long-running lawsuit by complying with a court ruling that said the state sends too little money to local school districts.

The Kansas House? Not just yet. It’s advancing a plan that would continue adding school spending for another year, and only another year.

Just after approving the school funding Gov. Laura Kelly asked for, the Kansas Senate turned around and gave the final okay to a tax relief package she opposes, daring the new governor to issue her first veto. 


The Kansas House has rejected Gov. Laura Kelly's plan to refinance pension debt. But the new governor says that won't tank the state budget or doom her priorities, including Medicaid expansion. Should expansion come to be, it'll be Health Secretary Lee Norman's job to implement it, and he says it'll get good ROI. 


Before Laura Kelly took over as governor, the Kansas Department for Children and Families overhauled which private companies would manage its child welfare system, and how the department would oversee their work.

Kelly put the brakes on that whole plan in December.

On Thursday, she announced she’d be rolling back major parts of the changes. She canceled grants with two companies and said the state would renegotiate grants with three companies.

Republicans in the Kansas Legislature handed Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly her first defeat this week.

On Valentine’s Day, no less.

They soundly rejected her plan to extend the timetable for covering the unfunded liability of the state pension system, KPERS.

Kelly hoped to lower the state’s annual payments by extending the timetable for amassing 80 percent of the dollars needed to pay all future retirement benefits.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and Kansas Department of Transportation officials outlined plans Wednesday for putting a state highway program abandoned by former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback back on track.

Years of lean budgets prompted annual raids of the state highway fund. With more than $2 billion siphoned off since 2011, it became known as the “bank of KDOT.”

“By reducing transfers from the state highway fund, we move closer to closing the bank of KDOT,” Kelly said at a news conference staged at the transportation agency.

Gov. Laura Kelly has said she has an easy solution for funding schools: Just renew the finance plan the Kansas Legislature agreed to last year and fold in an adjustment for inflation. But over in the Senate, lawmakers are picking that proposal apart.

After months of wrangling last year, lawmakers approved a $500 million multi-year boost for schools in response to a state Supreme Court ruling in the long-running Gannon case.

Three weeks into the 2019 legislative session, the battle lines are becoming clear.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly is keeping a relatively low profile (for a new governor) and sticking to her plan of triaging state needs and responding to the most urgent among them.

Toward that end, she’s told her cabinet members to make a deep-dive assessment of their agencies.

Analysis

Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s Medicaid expansion proposal is a retread.

It’s virtually the same bill that former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback vetoed in 2017.

An attempt to override that veto in the House failed, but only by three votes.

Democrat Laura Kelly is now governor. The Republicans still control both houses of the legislature. Now, the question is whether or not she can accomplish major policy goals such as funding K-12 education, introducing expanded Medicaid, and funding other pressing program needs without a tax increase.

Kansas’ new governor wants to fix the state’s foster care. Fast.

Laura Kelly isn’t the first governor to highlight a crisis in child welfare, or to inject cash into the Department for Children and Families.

Expectations run high for Kelly, who sat on a task force examining the child welfare system for more than a year. She’s made fixing foster care a high priority — it was one of just three topics she homed in on in her State of the State address last week.

The cast of characters may be new, but the script taking shape at the outset of the Kansas Legislature’s 2019 session rings familiar. 

The new governor — Democrat Laura Kelly — proposes a budget that pays for her priorities. It highlights things that she believes her election shows that voters also want. Republican legislative leaders respond with what amounts to, Thanks, but we’ve got a better handle on what Kansans want.

In her first budget as governor, Democrat Laura Kelly aims to inject cash into what she calls critical state services.

The proposal unveiled Thursday also would start to wean the state off money diverted for years from highway construction and upkeep.

Kansas swore a new governor into office on Monday and saw the end of eight years of Republicans in the office.

New Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly told supporters, and the Republican lawmakers she’s sure to clash with, that the state had lost its sense of community. That seemingly was a dig at predecessors Sam Brownback and Jeff Colyer.

Think of Laura Kelly as the fix-it governor.

As in she needs to fix what, by most accounts, is a state government in desperate need of repair.

For the first year or two of her administration, her biggest job will be restoring the capacity of state agencies crippled by budget cuts and the exodus of employees with the skills and institutional knowledge needed to keep the trains running on time.

Or, more to the point, balance the state budget, adequately fund schools and ensure that foster kids are placed in safe and stable homes.

Kansas Gov.-elect Laura Kelly announced Thursday that she’s replacing the head of the state’s embattled child welfare agency, and at the same time putting on hold new grants for private contractors to manage foster care and family preservation services.

Kansas Gov.-elect Laura Kelly insists the state budget she’s preparing can fully fund the state’s schools, expand Medicaid coverage to another 150,000 people and begin to repair a troubled child welfare system — without a tax hike.

The Democrat said Wednesday night she’ll lean on experience and relationships built over 14 years in the Kansas Senate to carve out compromises with lawmakers on those priorities.

Yet she described her job as daunting and state government as broken in several key areas.