Category Archives: Government

Bourbon County Commission Agenda for Jan. 21

Agenda

Bourbon County Commission Room

1st Floor, County Courthouse

210 S. National Avenue

Fort Scott, KS 66701

Tuesdays starting at 9:00

Date: January 21, 2020

1st District-Lynne Oharah Minutes: Approved: _______________

2nd District-Jeff Fischer Corrected: _______________

3rd District-Nick Ruhl Adjourned at: _______________

County Clerk-Kendell Mason

9:00-9:45 – Jim Harris

9:45-10:00 – Jess Milburn, JC Restoration re: front steps, windows

10:00-10:30 – Jody Hoener, Business Incubator Guidelines

12:00-1:30 – Lunch

1:30-2:00 – Polsinelli Law Firm

2:00-2:15 – Robert Leisure, EMS Update

2:45-3:00 – Courthouse Security

3:00-3:15 – Barb Peine

3:15-3:30 – Kim Simons, Wind Turbines

3:30-3:45 – Mike Wunderly, Wind Turbines in Bourbon County

Infrastructure Revitalization Begins In Fort Scott

Fort Scott Set to Embark on Infrastructure Revitalization Project

Fort Scott is set to begin construction on a city-wide infrastructure revitalization project that will provide upgraded and improved environments for visitors, city staff, and the community-at-large. Through this project, the city is partnering with Schneider Electric, a global energy leader, who has helped identify energy savings and facilities upgrade opportunities at the following city facilities:

·       Airport

·       Aquatic Center

·       Buck Run Community Center

·       City Hall

·       Davis Lift Station

 

·       Animal Shelter

·       Fire Station #2

·       Golf Course

·       Gunn Park

·       LaRoche Stadium

·       Memorial Hall

 

·       Public Safety (Fire/Police)

·       Public Works

·       Water Distribution

·       Water Production Plant

·       Wastewater Treatment

 

Citizens will notice a variety of improvements spread across multiple city facilities, parks and infrastructure. The budget-neutral project is being paid for through guaranteed energy, operational and maintenance savings over 20 years. The ability to leverage savings provides an opportunity to reinvest operating expenses back into needed capital improvements.

 

The energy-saving measures will provide funding for several city projects that have been unfunded in recent years. With a goal of anticipating and mitigating future needs, this strategic initiative also plans to reduce annual operating and maintenance costs that will create new revenue streams through improved city services and infrastructure.

 

Construction is slated to begin the first week of February and will continue through the fall of 2020. The first scope items to be installed will include energy-efficient lighting across multiple facilities The City and Schneider Electric will provide updates throughout the course of construction to the local community through monthly information sessions with the City Commission.

 

For more information on Schneider Electric, please visit www.enable.schneider-electric.com.

About Schneider Electric
At Schneider, we believe access to energy and digital is a basic human right. We empower all to do more with less, ensuring Life Is On everywhere, for everyone, at every moment. We provide energy and automation digital solutions for efficiency and sustainability. We combine world-leading energy technologies, real-time automation, software and services into integrated solutions for Homes, Buildings, Data Centers, Infrastructure and Industries. We are committed to unleash the infinite possibilities of an open, global, innovative community that is passionate with our Meaningful Purpose, Inclusive and Empowered values. www.se.com

Sheriff Martin On Recent Raises in Bourbon County

Bourbon County Sheriff Bill Martin. Submitted photo.

Bourbon County Sheriff Bill Martin is unhappy with the raises of administrative county employees, he said. He would have preferred giving input into raises in his office, including the one given him by the Bourbon County Commissioners.

A raise for elected officials became effective Dec. 15, 2019, according, to Bourbon County Commission minutes. This raised the clerk and treasurer’s salary to $47,248 annually, the register of deeds to 44,821 and the sheriff’s salary to $60,000.

Martin said in his budget request he had asked for a three-percent raise for all his employees.

“I did not request that large amount” for the sheriff’s position, he said.

There were no across-the-board raises given by the commission.

Martin said he was not aware of any raises until he received an email from Bourbon County Clerk Kendall Mason on Dec. 18, 2019.

At no other time was any raise amount ever discussed with me by the commission, not for myself or any member of my staff,” Martin said. ” I attended several commission meetings where I questioned the commission on budget figures for 2020 and, as usual, I was not ever given any answers.  At no time after I submitted my 2020 budget did anyone on the commission engage myself or my jail administration in salary discussions.”

In 2015 Martin had paid for a wage comparison survey and presented it to that Bourbon County Commission because he wanted to bring the salaries of the county employees as a whole up to standard amounts.

He felt it fell on “deaf ears” at the time, he said. It was a different set of commissioners.

For the 2020 Sheriff’s Office budget he had requested a three percent raise for his employees.

Instead, Martin’s salary was raised from $45,000 to $60,000.

He contends that discussions with him and his staff would have been beneficial to the decision making process.

“I am never provided with verbal information or written information as to where the money is put, cut or moved to in the budgets,” Martin said. “My door is always open for any discussion.”

Martin has two salaried employees.

“One of the two fell below the new income guideline set by the Federal Wage Law and the US Department of Labor,” Martin said.  “A captain at the correctional center fell under this ‘salaried employee category’ and therefore is required by law to have a salary increase.  If this wage increase is not performed, this employee would be eligible for overtime.  I can assure you that increasing this wage is far less harmful than allowing this employee to request overtime hours for all the overtime he works.  I am still unaware if this salary increase has been added to the correctional center budget.  The commission was made aware of this federal law… several months ago.”

Martin said the responsibility of the sheriff’s office falls to him.

“I am the face and the buck stops with me, so to speak, but they are the men and women with their lives on the line every, single day and every single night.  Christmas, Easter, Monday through Sunday.   They sign up to make a difference in their community where they live. It’s nice to be thanked and appreciated and compensated to prove yourself worthy.”

 

“Top-Heavy”

The county has two many administrative positions, Martin said.

“Our county is now so top-heavy with administration that the people in the offices and on the road and doing the jobs are unable to receive any fair raises and are far from a competitive wage for the jobs they are doing,” Martin said. “Our county has a road and bridge supervisor that makes over $60,880 a year plus benefits.  This county has a part-time, county counselor who makes $64,000 a year for 25 hours a week and has a private practice on the side; this is in addition to the county attorney who makes $50,000 a year.  This county now pays (not attacking the person) an economic development director… $70,000 a year plus benefits. As of January 1, we have a sheriff making $60,000., a county clerk, making $47,248 a treasurer making that same amount and a register of deeds making $44,821…We have three county commissioners who make $21,416 (each) per year plus benefits, which is another $64,248 plus benefits in a year.”

” I have been requesting additional deputies every year since I have taken office and every year, I am told that there is no money to spend,  budgets are close, overspending and overtime are out of control,” Martin said. “Yet, we have almost $200,000 in salaries for administrative staff, who hold jobs that should be performed by our road and bridge director and crews, the elected county clerk, our elected county attorney, and our elected county commission.  $200,000 would pay for other staff raises, staff who are on the ground working.” 

“It would pay for a much-needed school resource officer for Uniontown Schools plus a courthouse security officer, which is mandated by the state,” he said.  “I cannot get anyone to understand that when you pay a deputy a $35,000 a year salary, you are better off to hire two more deputies on the force and reducing the $60,000 in overtime pay.  I am contending that if they would not have raised my pay $15,000, they could have very easily allowed me to hire one new deputy and they would have been ahead money.  Where did all this money come from and how do we put these jobs back in the hands of the people who were elected to do them and eliminate all the huge salaries that we are paying right now.”     

The sheriff’s office operates around the clock much like an ambulance service or hospital does, he said.   And some of his employees are struggling financially.

“People do a great job for great pay,” Martin said.  “People do a decent job for decent pay and proud people show up to work to draw a wage rather than go on welfare.  Some of my employees can claim state insurance benefits for their families and that is shameful to think that we cannot provide a wage above the poverty level… I also have other employees who work two and three jobs and I cannot control what my employees do outside their duty time… during my time as a deputy, I worked three jobs to provide for my family and pay my bills.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Governor applauds Congressional passage of USMCA

 

Citing its importance to Kansas exports and the state’s economy, Governor Laura Kelly and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam expressed praise today for Congressional passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

  

“This is an important and welcome development in Kansas, especially as our farmers and ranchers struggle to rebuild after an historic year of natural disasters,” Governor Kelly said. “With more than 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside the United States, world markets offer tremendous growth opportunities for Kansas agriculture. USMCA will create enhanced export opportunities and help Kansans capitalize on the increased global demand for food and agriculture products.”

 

Secretary Beam also cited the positive impact for Kansas producers.

 

“This agreement is great news for Kansas, especially Kansas agriculture,” he said. “Mexico and Canada are consistently in the top three trade partners for Kansas so maintaining these strong relationships is critical for agricultural exports in the state.”

 

Canada and Mexico are Kansas’ first and third largest export markets for Kansas food and agricultural commodities, totaling nearly $1.58 billion in 2018 or 41.1% of our total trade.

 

USMCA is a significant development for Kansas farmers and ranchers. With a downturn in commodity prices, the agriculture sector is at a critical crossroads. The passage of USMCA provides Kansas farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses a degree of certainty during some uncertain times. It also instills confidence in the state’s top trade partners and neighbors that the U.S. can be counted on as reliable suppliers of food and agricultural commodities.

 

According to the office of U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, under USMCA all food and agricultural products that have had zero tariffs under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will remain at zero tariffs. Since the original NAFTA did not eliminate all tariffs on agricultural trade between the United States and Canada, the USMCA will create new market access opportunities for United States exports to Canada of dairy, poultry, and eggs, and in exchange the United States will provide new access to Canada for some dairy, peanut, and a limited amount of sugar and sugar-containing products.

The Kelly Budget: Continuing Progress

Governor Laura Kelley’s plan keeps promises to Kansas schools, expands affordable healthcare, pays over $600 million in debt, provides property, food sales tax relief

 

Topeka, Kan. — The second budget recommendation offered by Governor Laura Kelly delivers on her continued commitment to rebuilding Kansas after a decade of crisis. It maintains funding for Kansas public schools, includes funding to expand Medicaid, continues to phase out the “Bank of KDOT,” pays over $600 million in debt and provides over $117 million in commonsense tax relief.

 

“Kansas has made tremendous strides in recovering from the last decade of fiscal chaos,” Kelly said. “This balanced budget builds on that progress and positions Kansas to begin a new decade of shared prosperity and growth. I look forward to input from lawmakers and working with them to enact it.”

 

Kelly’s budget restores fundamental principles of Kansas fiscal responsibility:

 

    • Achieves Structural Balance: The Governor’s Budget Recommendation maintains structural balance, ensuring that state expenditures do not exceed revenues. It also meaningfully reduces the state’s irresponsible reliance on one-time funds.

 

    • Rebuilds State Savings: The Kelly Budget includes a statutorily required ending balance totaling $627.8 million. The 8.0 percent ending balance exceeds the amount required by law, a reflection of Gov. Kelly’s commitment to fiscal discipline.

 

    • Reduces State Debt: The Kelly budget retires $602.5 million of debt in FY 2020. This includes fully repaying the $264.3 million balance of the loan issued in calendar year 2017 from the Pooled Money Investment Board. It also pays off the $69.8 million balance of IMPACT bonds at the Department of Commerce. Paying $268.4 million will eliminate KPERS layering payments that resulted from skipping normal contributions to the system in FY 2017 and FY 2019. Altogether, paying these debts early saves an estimated $212.6 million in interest, as well as freeing up the related debt payments in future years.

 

Additionally, the Kelly budget accomplishes critical policy goals:

 

    • Keeps Funding Promise to Kansas Schools: In June 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Kansas had enacted a plan that fulfills the state’s constitutional obligation to adequately and fairly fund public schools. The Court endorsed the 2019 proposal offered by Governor Kelly and approved by the Legislature, which increases investment in education by roughly $90 million a year, accounting for inflationary increases at the rate of 1.44 percent through FY 2023. The Governor fully funded this plan in the FY 2021 budget, putting Kansas on track to increase school funding by $431.1 million through FY 2023.

 

    • Medicaid Expansion: The Governor’s recommendation includes $17.5 million to expand KanCare, the state’s Medicaid program. Expanding eligibility for the program will allow 150,000 low-income Kansans to access critical health-care coverage. This will not only improve the health and vitality of Kansas communities, information presented at the Governor’s Council on Medicaid Expansion showed that expanding Medicaid could also create new jobs across the state. 

 

    • Closing the “Bank of KDOT”: Since taking office, Kelly has restored investment in Kansas roads and bridges by $213 million. This budget reduces State Highway Fund transfers by an additional $73.1 million in FY 2021. Assuming state revenues remain stable, this will keep Kansas on track to fully close the “Bank of KDOT” by the end of the Governor’s first term. This will enable Kansas to fulfill the promises of T-WORKS and also enact a new transportation plan in FY 2021 without a tax increase.

 

    • Targeted Food Sales Tax Relief: The Governor’s tax policy recommendations provide food sales tax and property tax relief, and level the playing field by modernizing antiquated sales tax laws. Replacing the current non-refundable food sales tax credit with a new refundable food sales tax credit will provide $53.2 million in food sales tax relief beginning in tax year 2020.  Repealing the current non-refundable food sales tax credit after December 31, 2019, will save approximately $10 million in SGF receipts in FY 2021. Under the Governor’s proposal, the Department of Revenue estimates that more than 540,000 tax filers will claim $63.2 million in refundable food sales tax credits beginning in FY 2021.

 

    • Property Tax Relief: The Governor has also prioritized property tax relief. For the first time since 2003, resuming the State General Fund transfers to the Local Ad Valorem Tax Reduction Fund is included in the Governor’s budget recommendation. This will provide $54.0 million in local property tax relief beginning in FY 2021.

 

    • Public Safety: To address the growing overpopulation issue in our prisons, the Governor recommends expanding bed capacity and treatment capacity by renovating unoccupied buildings near the Winfield Correctional Facility and the Lansing Correctional Facility. These renovated facilities will add dedicated substance use treatment beds for offenders who need it, as well as adding capacity for geriatric care for aging and seriously ill inmates.

 

“I appreciate the bipartisan collaboration between the Executive and Legislative branches throughout the last year to rebuild Kansas after a decade of crisis,” Kelly said. “This budget will help ensure our progress. It honors all the funding promises made by the 2019 Legislature, continues to sustainably and fairly re-invest in Kansas communities and provides much-needed tax relief in the form of a food sales tax rebate and property tax cuts. I am confident that if we work together to enact this commonsense agenda, Kansas will undoubtedly begin the new decade strongly positioned to prosper and grow.”

The Governor’s full budget recommendation can be viewed here.

 

KS Governor’s State of the State Address

Governor Kelly delivers the State of the State address

 

The following State of the State address is from Governor Laura Kelly:

 

Mr. Speaker, Madam President, Madam Chief Justice, Lt. Governor Rogers, members of the Legislature, Cabinet officers, leaders of the Kansas tribes, honored guests, and fellow Kansans.

 

It is my high honor to stand before you this evening to report on the progress of my administration, and to share my plans for the year ahead.

 

We have much to discuss tonight. But before I begin, please welcome back the third “First Gentleman” in Kansas history, my husband, Dr. Ted Daughety.

 

Ted still misses his garden and his darkroom, but he’s adjusting to our new home by adding some personal touches. He has taken an interest in putting the “Cedar” back in Cedar Crest with the planting of new trees. He also started a vegetable garden. He even has his own compost pile.

 

In addition to all of that, he continues to practice medicine full time. So, Ted and I have settled into life at the Governor’s Residence.

 

In fact, it was the backdrop for our family’s biggest news of 2019! It was a joy to watch our daughter Kathleen wed our new son-in-law, Mathias, at Cedar Crest earlier this year, with our younger daughter, Molly, standing by her sister’s side.

 

Speaking of siblings – my sister, Kay and my brother Paul are also here tonight from Colorado.

 

And listening in online from Richmond, Virginia, is my brother, Father Fred.

 

As everyone here knows, it is not easy to be related to someone who serves in public office. I am grateful to my family for the support they have provided from the very first day of this journey.

 

Since we’re talking about family members, I dare not exclude the four-legged variety. Frances, the First Cat of Kansas, sends her regards.

 

If there is one thing I didn’t expect this past year, it was the widespread interest in my cat. She’s made lots of new friends on social media. She gets more news coverage than I do.

 

Frances asked me to relay a special message to Lt. Governor Lynn Rogers, who is here with his wife, Kris.

 

Lynn — Frances said to tell you she’s very close to exceeding your following on Twitter. And that you need to step up your game.

 

As everyone here has no doubt come to know, Lynn Rogers is an exceptional lieutenant governor. In case you couldn’t tell, he’s also unfailingly good-natured.

 

Lynn hit the road almost as soon as we took our oaths of office last year, logging more than 17,000 miles on a statewide listening tour, engaging Kansans in our efforts to establish the Office of Rural Prosperity.

 

Housing shortages, affordable childcare, revitalizing Main Street corridors, protecting rural hospitals, expanding rural broadband — these are all concerns that weigh heavily on the minds of Kansans. With the right mix of state support and local ingenuity, I am confident that the Office of Rural Prosperity will serve as an invaluable partner for Kansas communities to sustain and enhance our state’s rural heritage.

 

Thank you, Lynn, for your work on this very important issue.

 

In fact, thank you to my entire Cabinet – seated in the west gallery, behind me.

 

No governor can succeed without a strong and supportive team, and I could not have asked for a more qualified group of leaders to help rebuild our state.

 

I realize, for those who have been around the Kansas Capitol a session or two, these annual messages might sometimes seem a bit routine. But tonight carries a special distinction.

 

For the first time in Kansas history, women sit at the helm of all three branches of Kansas government.

 

It is my privilege to serve as our state’s third female governor, alongside the first female Senate President, Susan Wagle. And the second female Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Marla Luckert.

 

Kansas reached this milestone at a fitting moment, as 2020 also marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.

 

Anniversaries and new years are always important opportunities to reflect on time gone by, and on progress made. We have another such opportunity this evening, as we usher in not just a new legislative session, but a new decade.

 

So let us go back for just a moment and remember where we’ve been.

 

Almost ten years ago — to the day — we gathered in this chamber for the 2010 state of the state address. Kansas found itself in the throes of the worst economic downturn in 80 years. The Great Recession had necessitated $1 billion dollars in spending cuts. Another $400 million dollar budget gap still loomed before us. It was brutal.

 

It’s probably for the best that we did not realize, in that moment, that this would be the brightest fiscal outlook Kansas would have for another seven years.

 

Of course, you know what happened next. A new administration was in place one year later, and the saga of the failed tax experiment began soon thereafter. Instead of recovering from the Great Recession alongside every other state in the nation, Kansas settled in for six more years of financial chaos. This time, it was self-inflicted.

 

By the time I stood before you as governor in 2019, Kansas was on life support. The state had racked up record amounts of debt, schools had been cut to the bone, taxes on groceries had been increased until they were the highest in the nation, agencies had been decimated, and Kansas had generally become a national model for what not to do.

 

After devastating cuts and relentless crises – a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers demonstrated courage and conviction when they joined forces in the face of adversity to stop the bleeding in 2017.

 

That bipartisan effort — one that so many of you helped bring to fruition — changed everything.

 

So, although it was a decade in which much went wrong, we rebounded in a way that only Kansas can.

 

Over the last 12 months, Kansas added 12,400 private sector jobs.

 

The state not only reached a new employment record, our unemployment rate fell to its lowest point in 40 years.

 

Since I became governor, we fulfilled our promise to properly fund Kansas schools.

 

We reinvested in public safety, and worked tirelessly to stabilize our foster care system.

 

We increased pay and lowered health insurance premiums for thousands of public employees and their families.

 

We’re paying off debt so we can eventually establish a state rainy day fund and better prepare for financial emergencies.

 

In US News and World Report’s “Best States” rankings, Kansas jumped seven spots in 2019. We now rank 15th highest in education. We scored 7th best in infrastructure.

 

In fact, I’m proud to report that we improved in almost every category, including the economy and fiscal stability.

 

I’m also proud to report that in CNBC’s annual “Top States for Business,” Kansas was declared the “comeback state of 2019.”

 

Above all, I am proud to report that Kansas has ended a turbulent decade on a high note. As we look to the future, the state of our state grows stronger every day.

 

We have so many reasons to be hopeful tonight. But make no mistake: one year of progress cannot erase a decade of damage. Two of the most important sectors of the Kansas economy remain incredibly fragile.

 

As a major Boeing supplier, Spirit AeroSystems was hit hard by the recent suspension of the 737 Max production. Even as we speak, thousands of Wichita families are suddenly fearful that soon they may be unable to provide for their families.

 

I’ve been in constant communication with local, state and federal officials since temporary layoffs were announced late last week. I instructed my Labor Secretary, Delia Garcia, to take an all-hands-on-deck approach to help workers, Spirit and other Kansas businesses that will be negatively impacted.

 

Unfortunately, Kansas agriculture also finds itself at a precarious moment.

 

Between historic flooding last spring and escalating trade tensions over the last two years, net farm incomes have dropped 50 percent from their peak in 2013.

 

Congress could certainly help, and they could start by ratifying the pending USMCA trade agreement.

 

I have been a vocal proponent of the USMCA agreement from the beginning. I commend the U.S. House of Representatives for passing this agreement, and urge the U.S. Senate to do the same.

 

It’s critical for Kansas. We are indeed an export state. And with us tonight, from our second largest customer, Canada, is Consul General Stephane Lessard.

 

Thank you for being here, Consul General.

 

When it comes to the livelihoods of Kansas families and businesses, we won’t wait on Washington and the USMCA agreement however. We must take matters into our own hands.

 

The International Trade Division at the Department of Commerce was dismantled in recent years. I’ve instructed my Commerce Secretary, David Toland, to focus on rebuilding this division.

 

As I said before, Kansas is an export state, and we cannot compete in a global economy without strong international trading partners.  We must breathe new life into our efforts to increase exports and compel international companies to choose Kansas.

 

I’m not just focused on convincing companies to choose Kansas. I’m also focused on the people who choose Kansas.

 

The effort to reconnect people with their state government and to rebuild public trust — starts at the top.

 

From day one, I’ve wanted Kansans to hear from me about what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it. Kansans deserve to engage directly with their Governor.

 

That’s why I’ve hosted “Kansan to Kansan” townhall meetings regularly since I took office. This fall, when I was building the state budget, I went on a listening tour to hear directly from the people about their priorities.

 

I’ve talked extensively — and candidly — with Kansans about what we’ve accomplished, and where we’d like to go in the year ahead. In turn, they’ve spoken candidly with me about their concerns, and how state government can better serve them.

 

I’d like to share their thoughts and concerns with you, and what I think we can do about them, together, in 2020.

 

I promised Kansans that I would be “the education governor.” I consider the progress we’ve made on public education to be our most important accomplishment to date — but we have more to do.

 

Last year I stood here and asked you to put aside partisanship and work with me to finally provide schools with the resources they need to be successful. You did it, and I applaud you.

 

I was proud to stand with many of you that Saturday morning last April, as hundreds of public school teachers packed into the ceremonial office to witness the signing of legislation that would end a decades-long legal battle over school finance.

 

It was truly a remarkable moment. Not just because of what we accomplished, but how we accomplished it.

 

None of the teachers who attended the bill signing cared if it was a “Democrat” plan or a “Republican” plan. They cared only that their schools would be funded. That it might help improve Kansas teacher salaries, which rank 41st in the nation. They cared that it would ensure educators have what they need to serve Kansas children well.

 

Let’s keep that in mind as we forge ahead.

 

Restoring school funding was a critical first step. But now I challenge us all to engage in a bigger and bolder conversation about “what’s next.”

 

Soon after taking office, I established the Council on Education. I asked the Council to re-evaluate every corner of our educational ecosystem — early childhood, K-12, higher education and workforce development — and to bring those players to the same table. I also engaged business and industry, labor, and other stakeholders so we may cultivate the workforce that Kansas will need to compete in the years ahead.

 

It is time to align all of these moving parts so that we can put Kansas at the forefront of growth and innovation. The work of this Council will be essential in helping us shape the future of Kansas education, the Kansas workforce, and Kansas as a state.

 

I want to recognize the co-chairs of this council – Dr. Cindy Lane, the former KCK Public Schools Superintendent and Dr. Fred Dierksen, current Superintendent of Dodge City Public Schools, who are here tonight in the gallery. Thank you for all your hard work – and the hard work yet to come.

 

Our progress on education is a valuable reminder to all of us that Kansans do not keep partisan score — even when clever sports analogies are employed. Kansans care about results. That’s what we get when we work together.

 

We can deliver bipartisan results again in 2020.

 

And we can start with one of the most urgent issues we face.

 

This must be the year Kansas becomes the 37th state to expand Medicaid.

 

Apparently, you have heard that Kansas made a little bit of news on this front last week.

 

After weeks of tough negotiations and lots of give and take, we developed a proposal that will not only expand healthcare to 150,000 Kansans, but also has the potential to lower health insurance premiums in the marketplace.

 

It was an honor to stand with so many of you — Republican and Democrat, Representatives and Senators — who have been committed to getting this done for Kansas.

 

We have so many reasons to bring this across the finish line.

 

In July, a study of mortality rates in non-expansion states estimated that 288 Kansans have died prematurely every year from 2014 to 2017 specifically due to our failure to adopt expansion.

 

Another study, released in November, showed that expansion improves infant and maternal health.

 

Yet another found the rate of rural hospital closure increases significantly in non-expansion states like Kansas.

 

Just last week, a study was released that linked Medicaid Expansion to a decline in opioid abuse.

 

There is a stack of rigorous, nonpartisan evidence to illustrate how critical KanCare expansion is to the health and welfare of our state. It grows by the day.

 

So does public support.

 

The number of expansion states continues to increase. No state has reversed its decision to expand. And voters across the ideological spectrum continue to reaffirm their support for expansion in election after election.

 

I’m talking about in states like Kentucky. Louisiana. Virginia. States where access to affordable healthcare drove people to the polls.

 

I’m talking about Nebraska, where 54% of voters approved Medicaid Expansion by ballot initiative in 2018.

 

I’m talking about Oklahoma, where in October a record number of petitions were submitted to put Medicaid expansion on the 2020 ballot.

 

And, yes, I’m even talking about Missouri. Where expansion is well on its way to a statewide vote, with momentum growing by the day.

 

If nothing else, surely maintaining Kansas’ 159-year tradition of beating Missouri is something we can all get behind…

 

In all seriousness:

 

As I said last week, compromise is hard. It is messy. It is slow. But it is so worth it.

 

Now it’s up to all of you to finish the task.

 

When we do add this to our list of bipartisan accomplishments, it will not only save lives, it will close the book on a long, senseless, expensive political fight — making room to improve access to health care and grow the Kansas economy.

 

We are so close. Let’s get this done.

 

As we continue our work to rebuild Kansas, there’s one area where we mean it… literally. It’s time for us to develop a new, comprehensive transportation plan so that we can rebuild roads and bridges across our state.

 

My Secretary of Transportation, Julie Lorenz, and her team have spent months hosting community meetings to ensure that all Kansans – in communities large and small – have the opportunity to help shape the future of infrastructure in a way that meets local needs.

 

Infrastructure is about far more than just roads and bridges.

 

It’s the means by which our school buses safely transport our most precious cargo. It’s how we make Kansans’ daily commutes faster and safer so they can spend more time with their families. It means jobs. Thousands of jobs. It’s the gateway to rural broadband. And as an export state, it is how we get Kansas goods to market and keep our economy humming.

 

This will be the fourth time Kansas has pursued such an endeavor. Each plan has improved upon the plan before, adapting to changing needs throughout the state and building on lessons learned. Each plan has propelled Kansas into the future, making our transportation system one of the best in the nation.

 

There’s one lesson from the past, in particular, I hope you will keep in mind as we begin this process anew:

 

Even the best laid infrastructure plan will crumble if we do not maintain the resources we need as a state to see it through.

 

As promised, last year I officially began “closing down” the “Bank of KDOT.” I am fully committed to continuing that phase out throughout my first term so that we can fulfill the promises of the previous transportation plan and invest in the future.

 

But I’ve always been clear that this pledge comes with one, critical caveat: stable state revenues.

 

Rebuilding fiscal stability in Kansas state government has been one of my top priorities as governor. Last January, I presented a balanced budget to the Legislature without raising taxes. A budget that paid down debt. Re-invested in core services like education and healthcare. All while leaving the largest ending balance in more than a decade.

 

The budget didn’t quite return to me with all those features intact.

 

The budget that came back to my desk in May included $182 million dollars more in spending than I had recommended. It did not maintain the statutorily-required ending balance we need to cushion state investments in case of an emergency. It also spent more than we were taking in.

 

The good news is that Kansas’ economic outlook has stabilized, and even improved a bit. While the risk of a recession will always remain a possibility, the foreseeable future does not appear as ominous as it did last January.

 

That is why tomorrow, for the second year in a row, I will submit to you a balanced budget that continues our rebuilding efforts, that continues to pay down debt, and that honors my promise to cut taxes.

 

Kansas families are taxed more for food than anywhere else in the United States. These families shouldn’t have to pay more than their fair share, especially when it comes to the essentials. So my budget will take the first step in lowering taxes on groceries, starting with Kansans who need help the most.

 

I’ve always considered lowering the tax on groceries an urgent need. But ultimately we must work our way back to that longstanding notion of the “three-legged stool.” We must rebalance all of our revenue streams — income, sales, and property tax.

 

The Kansas tax structure has become more than a little lopsided in recent years, which is why my budget will also include property tax relief.

 

As funding for schools, cities and counties was cut over the last decade, local units of government were left with few options to make ends meet. Increasing property taxes was one of them.

 

This left local communities frustrated, and put a desperate strain on working Kansans and Kansans living on fixed incomes — especially our seniors. They need relief, and we can give it to them in 2020.

 

Together, the food and property tax relief I will offer will take meaningful strides in re-building our overall tax structure so that it is more fair and more fiscally responsible.

 

But it is only the first step of what must be a multi-phased, multi-year process.

 

I understand that any discussion of taxes is politically charged. But if we ever truly want to move forward, we must confront the stark inequities, outdated inefficiencies, and expensive loopholes riddled throughout our tax code.

 

To this end, I established a Council on Tax Reform last summer to develop such comprehensive, commonsense reforms.

 

I’d like to recognize former Democratic Senator Janis Lee, who is here with us in the gallery, and former Republican Senate President Steve Morris, for spearheading this bipartisan effort.

 

The Tax Council’s work will continue into 2020. In the meantime, the Council identified a targeted food sales tax cut through a refundable rebate and broad property tax relief as two initial steps we can and should take as a state to begin the long process of re-balancing our revenue streams.

 

Before I move on, I ask you to have a little faith.

 

As governor, I have worked diligently to honor every promise I’ve made to Kansans. I’ve also worked to include you as my partner in the governing process every step of the way. My commitment to working with you on tax reform is no different.

 

I began my remarks this evening with a quick stroll down memory lane —- but not because the last 10 years were filled with such pleasant memories.

 

I started there because I don’t want Kansas to finish there. We simply cannot go back.

 

So I want to be clear: to protect our recovery, and to ensure Kansas does not repeat the mistakes of the last decade, I will veto any tax bill that comes to my desk that throws our state back into fiscal crisis, or debt, or sends us back to court for underfunding our schools.

 

I hope you won’t stand for it either.

 

This has been an eventful year.

 

One year ago, our social safety net was in shreds.

 

Together, we took action. We hired dozens of new social workers across the state to better support vulnerable families. We created special response teams and amplified collaboration with the KBI to more quickly recover missing foster care youth. We brought nursing homes back from the brink of fiscal ruin without closing a single facility. We bolstered funding for mental health in an effort to c

Property Tax Transparency A Main Objective In 2020 by Senator Caryn Tyson

Caryn Tyson

January 11, 2020 CONTACT: Caryn.Tyson@Kansas.Senate.gov

(TOPEKA, KS) – Legislators have been working to find solutions in addressing ever-increasing high property taxes. They spent much of 2019 on the issue and are prepared to introduce legislation that will improve transparency and truth in taxation.
Senator Caryn Tyson, Linn County, Chair of the Senate Tax Committee, released the following statement today:
“One of the main complaints legislators hear from their constituents is that property taxes are too high. After studying the issue, it is apparent there is a need for more transparency and truth in taxation. Other legislators are working with me to change that – by increasing transparency and improving the process to appeal real estate property taxes.”
Senator Tyson is leading this effort along with Senator Bud Estes, Ford County, Senator Larry Alley, Cowley County, Representative Ron Highland, Wabaunsee County, and Representative Ken Corbet, Shawnee County. They are working with others throughout the state to understand the process and find solutions in addressing high property taxes. The initial step was hearing from county officials, appraisers, taxpayers, and tax experts. As this process continues there will be other legislators involved who will be instrumental in completing this process.
Tyson said, “Most property taxpayers aren’t as concerned about the valuation or mil levy as they are about the increasing dollar amount of their property taxes. By changing the process, this will require transparency in property tax increases and keep the public informed of proposed property tax changes before an increase occurs.”
“A change we are proposing will require the mil levy to be recalculated so the same dollar amount would be collected as of the previous year. To increase the property tax dollar amount, the governing body would be required to announce a meeting where the public officials would vote on the increase.” She went on to say, “this will require public officials to vote on a property tax increase rather than increasing valuations that automatically raise property taxes.”
The changes are modeled after other states, such as Utah and Tennessee. By using proven methodologies Kansas is not reinventing the wheel.
There are other proposed changes to help, such as allowing an option for an arbitrator to oversee the first step in the appeals process; putting an estimated dollar amount for your property tax on the valuation sheet; and excluding maintenance from increasing the valuation of your property. These are just some of the changes that will improve the process and truth in Kansas taxation laws.

Kansas Adjutant General Resigns

Governor announces planned resignation of Kansas Adjutant General

 

Governor Laura Kelly today announced the planned resignation of Kansas Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli.

 

Tafanelli, who has served as the state’s Adjutant General since Jan. 8, 2011, will step down from his current post on March 31.

 

The Adjutant General is the principal military advisor to the Governor. As the Adjutant General, Tafanelli oversees the activities of the Adjutant General’s Department, which includes the Kansas Army and Air National Guard. He also serves as the director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management and director of Kansas Homeland Security. For budgetary and administrative purposes, he is responsible for the Civil Air Patrol.

 

Tafanelli also served in the Kansas House of Representatives.

 

“I want to thank Major General Tafanelli for his outstanding service to the people of Kansas and our nation, and for his steadfast leadership of such a critical part of our government operations,” Governor Kelly said. “His efforts have aided Kansans in many ways, to include his direction of the state’s response in communities impacted by disasters such as tornadoes, flooding and more recently wildfires. He has served his state and nation well, and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

 

“As I look back on the past 39 years of my career in uniform, I have been blessed to work on a team of the most outstanding and dedicated professionals and I am extremely proud of the men and women of our Department,” Tafanelli said in his letter of resignation to the Governor. “They work tirelessly to carry out our Agency mission, working in public service for a greater cause and have proven always willing to sacrifice to make our state and nation a better place.”

 

Tafanelli also thanked Governor Kelly for her leadership and support.

 

“It has truly been an honor and privilege to serve as a member of your Cabinet as the Adjutant General of this great State,” he said in the letter.

 

The Governor will release details on a succession plan later this month.

 

Rural Prosperity Listening Tour Report

Governor, Lt. Governor announce release Office of Rural Prosperity listening tour report

 

Governor Laura Kelly and Lieutenant Governor Lynn Rogers announced at a press conference today the release of the Office of Rural Prosperity Listening Tour report.

 

The Office of Rural Prosperity (ORP), housed within the Kansas Department of Commerce, was created by Governor Kelly as a way to help revitalize and highlight rural Kansas communities.

 

The Office’s new report includes details regarding the unique needs and strengths of rural communities across Kansas that were gathered during a listening tour conducted this summer by Lt. Governor Rogers and outlines the Office’s recommendations for fostering growth and prosperity in these areas.

 

“I am proud of the work Lt. Governor Rogers has done to identify rural communities’ barriers to long-term prosperity,” Governor Kelly said. “We are committed to partnering with rural communities, to develop policies that help Kansans succeed.”

 

The report is a summary of conversations and public listening sessions with hundreds of Kansans about what prosperity means to their community.

 

“Through our discussions with rural communities, we learned a lot about rural Kansans’ unique challenges,” Lt. Governor Rogers said. “Which include housing; physical and digital infrastructure; economic and workforce development; high property taxes; and access to quality, affordable health care and child care.”

 

The report outlines several areas ORP will be focusing on in the coming months to begin addressing these challenges. It includes plans to create three Interagency Work Groups that will develop tools to help address the unique challenges facing rural communities in the areas of housing; childcare; and workforce recruitment, retention and education. These groups will bring together state and federal agencies to help identify what our state can be doing better when it comes to each area, find available resources and make recommendations for administrative changes.

 

“While the creation of the Office of Rural Prosperity and my listening tour were great first steps, we know there is much more work to do in order to facilitate growth and prosperity in rural communities,” Lt. Governor Rogers said. “I am excited to continue working to improve rural Kansans’ quality of life one step at a time.”

 

To access to full report, click here.

 

FS City Street Advisory Board Members Sought

The City of Fort Scott Street Advisory Board has openings.

  • Four openings (City residents)

The function of the Fort Scott Street Advisory Board Committee is to provide suggestions to the City Manager and Governing Body regarding road improvement projects throughout the City of Fort Scott.

If you have a desire to serve on this board and meet the above requirements, please submit a letter of interest to the City Clerk, Diane Clay, 123 S. Main, Fort Scott, Kansas 66701. These names will be submitted for consideration to the City Commission. All of the boards and commissions serve on a volunteer basis and are not compensated. If you would like more information on this board, please contact Diane Clay, City Clerk at 620-223-0550 or dclay@fscity.org. Please submit your letter of interest by January 31st, 2020.

City Offices Closed Jan. 20

The City of Fort Scott City Administrative Offices will be closed on Monday, January 20th, 2020 in observance of the Martin Luther King Day holiday. The offices will reopen on Tuesday, January 21st, 2020.

The City’s tree and brush dump site located on North Hill will also be closed on Saturday, January 18th, 2020 for the Martin Luther King Day holiday. It will be open again on Tuesday, January 21st, 2020 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Bourbon County Commission Agenda Jan. 14

Agenda

Bourbon County Commission Room

1st Floor, County Courthouse

210 S. National Avenue

Fort Scott, KS 66701

Tuesdays starting at 9:00

Date: January 14, 2020

1st District-Lynne Oharah Minutes: Approved: _______________

2nd District-Jeff Fischer Corrected: _______________

3rd District-Nick Ruhl Adjourned at: _______________

County Clerk-Kendell Mason

1:30-2:00 – Jim Harris

2:00-2:15 – John George – Wind Generation Opportunities

2:15-2:30 – Jody Hoener – executive session Proprietary Information

2:30-3:00 – Jody Hoener-Business Incubator

3:00-4:00 – Alan Anderson-Polsinelli Law Firm

Executive Session

Confidential data relating to financial affairs or trade secrets

4:00-4:15 – Justin Meeks

4:15-4:30 – Courthouse Security

4:30-6:00 – Lunch

6:00-6:30 – Windfarm Discussion

6:30-6:45 – Kim Simons