July 2012 District 94 Reports
To say that this campaign is hot is an understatement. I am not just talking about the 100 degree heat. As a result of redistricting we have had radical changes in many districts. In numerous cases we have incumbents running against each other. My particular district changed from 100 to 94. This resulted in a change of about 50% of the people that I have represented for the past 10 years.
Precinct walks can result in very long and draining days. However, it's always the most enjoyable and rewarding part of a campaign. Meeting and talking with people in my district is motivating, and is a constant reminder of why you need representation in Topeka so your words will have a voice in the legislature. If you want to participate, I can use the help. I need volunteers to help me hit the doorsteps of everyone across the district.
The Kansas Economy
June was the final month of the 2012 Fiscal Year. Our economy is reviving, although slowly. This is reflected by the increasing tax collection numbers. Fiscal Year 2012 collections were $465 million or 8.4 percent above the$5.543 billion collection of last year. Governor Brownback's vision of reducing taxes to improve the jobs in Kansas seems to be working. These numbers do not include the effect of the changes in tax laws that were implemented in this past legislative session.
Individual income taxes totaled $2.9 billion, 7.3 percent, $198 million higher than the previous year. Sales tax was $2.136 million, 8.7 percent, $171 million or higher. Finally, corporate income taxes were $284 million, a $59 million increase.
New Healthcare Law
The United State Supreme Court finally issued its long awaited decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as Obamacare. The Court determined that the individual mandate provision was constitutional. However, the expansion of the Medicaid programs was overturned, providing the ability for states to opt out of some of the provisions.
The Supreme Court ruled that the new healthcare law restricts the states ability to regulate health plans and it overrides patient protections already adopted. These also would have imposed new costs on state government budgets.
Under the bill's provisions, states were guaranteed to see an enormous expansion of Medicaid enrollments. Projection estimates were of an increase of 30 percent in enrollments in 2014 alone, because many uninsured individuals would have become eligible for Medicaid coverage.
The new healthcare law is an unprecedented legislation that usurps state's powers, imposes massive costs to state budgets, and imposes mandates and new taxes on U.S. taxpayers. The legislation failed to acknowledge the differences among the states, creating a one-size fits all model that prevents states from determining what model works best for them. However, states are not powerless in this battle and the Court's ruling gave states the opportunity to say no to the federal government. Several states are reviewing their options for opting out of the Medicaid expansion. Florida and South Carolina have already announced that they will decline to participate. Kansas must carefully consider our options, and make the best decision possible in light of the court's decision.
Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, Department on Aging, the Disability and Behavioral Health Services Division at SRS, and parts of the Health Occupations Credentialing Division Reorganization
The Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) and the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) were commissioned as part of Governor Brownback's ongoing reorganization efforts. The governor's goal is to increase efficiency among state agencies and to improve services and programs. The two agencies will focus on protecting Kansas children, families and its most vulnerable residents.
DCF replaces the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services as the agency responsible for protecting children and promoting healthy families. The responsibilities of DCF include children and adult protective services, adoption services, foster care support, child support services, welfare and food assistance programs, and services dedicated to vocational rehabilitation.
Four existing major client services have been renamed as part of the transition. Children and family services is now Prevention and Protection Services; Child Support Enforcement has been renamed Child Support Services; Economic and Employment Support is now Economic and Employment Services; and Rehabilitation Services has been renamed Vocational Rehabilitation Services.
DCF has a new website, www.dcf.ks.gov. Customer service can be contacted at (888) 369-4777. The Agency will remain at the same address in the Docking State Office Building, 915 SW Harrison in Topeka. All 39 Kansas service centers will also remain at their existing locations.
KDADS merges the former Department on Aging, the Disability and Behavioral Health Services Division at SRS and parts of the Health Occupations Credentialing Division. The agency will administer services to older adults; Mental Health, Addiction and Prevention Programs; State Hospitals and Institutions; Home and Community based service waiver programs; and some health occupation credentialing. KDADS is now the second largest agency in state government with a budget of $1.7 billion in FY 2013, including $154.9 million for state hospitals. The core goals of KDADS are to keep older adults and the disabled at home and independent for as long as possible.
KDADS also has a new website, www.kdads.ks.gov. All aging programs will remain in their current location at the New England Building, 503 S. Kansas Avenue in Topeka. Disability services will remain in the Docking State Office Building, 915 SW Harrison in Topeka for the time being.
Drought conditions continue to worsen across the state; Governor Brownback has issued a Drought Declaration classifying all of Kansas 105 counties into emergency, warning or watch status. Sedgwick County is in Drought Warning status.
The below average precipitation has resulted in reduced stream flow, depleted soil moisture levels, and left many parts of the state at a high risk for wildfire. Burn bans have been instituted in many counties. Farmers, ranchers and other individuals are encouraged to remain in contact with their local emergency boards as they monitor losses resulting from the extreme weather. For more detailed information about current conditions, access the Kansas Climate Summary and Drought Report available at the Kansas Water Office Website, www.kwo.org. The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks have implemented burn restrictions at several state parks. For more information on the burn bans in your area or at local parks please visit www.kansastag.gov or www.ksoutdoors.com.