Governor Laura Kelly Signs Bill Making Key Investments to Improve State Services for Vulnerable Kansans
~~Legislation Enables State Universities to Hold Tuition Flat~~
TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly today announced she has signed bipartisan House Bill 2510, which makes key investments in education, economic development, mental health, senior services, and our veterans. HB 2510 also makes historic levels of funding to state universities, enabling them to freeze tuition and knock down barriers to higher education.
“This budget delivers on commitments I made in January to improve access to services for vulnerable Kansans,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “I am proud of our continued bipartisan work to restore and enhance vital state services – responsibly paid for through our strong economic growth.”
HB 2510 ensures funding for mental health initiatives like 9-8-8, the state’s new suicide prevention hotline; increases funding to grow and enhance the care provided by community mental health centers; and expands mental health services in regions like South-Central Kansas.
It also includes many initiatives that build upon the Kelly Administration’s strong record of improving the child welfare system and fully funds a veterans’ home in Northeast Kansas – making it possible for those who have served their country to receive long-term care closer to home.
“This budget will improve services for Kansans in a responsible way, building a sustainable foundation for years to come,” Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau, District 29, said. “I’m especially proud of the provision that requires the Department of Children and Families to use performance-based contracts, which will ensure that our child advocates are focused on providing satisfactory care for children and families in need, rather than increasing their intake loads. Because of this policy, Kansas children will receive the care they need and deserve, and our state will be able to hold providers accountable for their work.”
This bill also directs a portion of federal money to state universities, community colleges, and technical colleges, enabling them to freeze tuition and make higher education more affordable for students from a range of backgrounds.
“Our historic, $1 billion investment in higher education will make it possible for universities to freeze tuition, continuing the streak of low-to-no tuition growth under my Administration,” Governor Kelly said.
“Due to our state’s recent economic growth, we had a unique opportunity to make historic one-time investments to modernize our higher education system and this budget does that,” Senator Tom Hawk, Ranking Minority Member on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said. “Funding for our whole education system, including higher education, should send a message to all prospective students, faculty, and the business community that Kansas stands ready to provide the educated workforce that our economy needs.”
“By investing in our community colleges, technical colleges, and universities, this budget will expand our workforce and economic development potential as a state.” Representative Kathy Wolfe-Moore, Ranking Minority on House Appropriations, said. “From Kansas City and Pittsburg to Garden City and Hays, we are updating our campuses and expanding our capacity to make sure our students are ready to step up to the plate when they graduate.”
Another portion will direct one-time funding toward housing and economic development projects.
“This budget not only provides funding for key economic development initiatives, it will also jumpstart housing development in communities that are ready to grow like my hometown of Salina.” Senator J.R. Claeys, Vice Chair of Senate Ways and Means, said. “As company after company announces expansions and new investment, it’s clear that Kansas is a great place to do business and raise a family, and our private housing developers and local stakeholders are ready to get to work to make sure communities across the state have the quality housing needed to attract young workers and their families.”
In addition, HB 2510 ensures all state public employees enjoy at least a 5% pay increase this year, following a previous recommendation from the Governor. It also restores multiple agencies to the across-the-board pay increase, including the Office of the State Fire Marshal, the Board of Indigent Defense Services, and all employees at 24/7 facilities.
“As they do every year, Kansas state employees work hard to deliver exceptional service to the people of Kansas in some of the toughest jobs in the state,” Sarah LaFrenz, President of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said. “We appreciate the Governor’s leadership and the Legislature’s bipartisan support of the base pay, differential, and market rate increases included in the budget this year for state employees. Funding these pay increases is such an essential step in helping curb the staffing crises at state facilities, compensating these workers for their hard and necessary work, and making our communities safer.”
Below please find the message from the Governor regarding House Bill 2510:
House Bill 2510 represents additional progress toward fulfilling many of the priorities that I set forth in January and that have been made possible only through our bipartisan work together over the past four years. Building on House Substitute for Substitute for Senate Bill 267, this bill provides additional investments in higher education, economic development, mental health, senior services, and veterans while leaving sufficient funding to provide over $1 billion in tax relief to Kansans through the legislation that I have signed to cut property taxes and axe the state’s sales tax on groceries.
Some of the key investments in this legislation include improved access to mental healthcare, increased funding for senior nutrition, expanded training opportunities to prevent child abuse, and measures that build on our successful work to reduce the number of children who enter the foster care system. This bill includes additional investments in our regional universities and community and technical colleges, which are critical to our efforts to expand our workforce in the state of Kansas. And this budget ensures that all state employees will receive a pay increase of at least 5% this year in recognition of their service to the state.
Finally, due to our strong economic growth and unprecedented ending balances, this budget will allow us to pay off over $1 billion in debt over the next year.
Therefore, pursuant to Article 2, Section 14(b) of the Constitution of the State of Kansas, I hereby return House Bill 2510 with my signature, except for the item enumerated below.
State Board of Regents—Proviso Allowing Universities to Raise Tuition
Section 36(b) has been vetoed in its entirety.
In my initial budget, I recommended $45.7 million in operating grant funding to higher education with the understanding that universities would freeze tuition. In addition to that, I allocated $23.9 million in funding for salaries. While the original operating grant funding has been reduced to an increase of $37.5 million in the final passed budget, overall, higher education in the state of Kansas is set to receive $1 billion this fiscal year. This is a historic investment that I am proud to support by approving the additional higher education funding included in HB 2510.
As a result of this significant infusion of new funding, I believe that the Regents institutions will be able to continue to hold tuition flat, making college more affordable for Kansans of all backgrounds. This is especially important if we, as a state, are going to provide the workforce needed to fully actualize the benefits and opportunities of our recent economic growth.