Capitol Update: Sen. Skubal says school funding, KDOT and Medicaid expansion are issues to watch this session

Sen. John Skubal on election night in November 2016.

Each legislative session, we provide the Shawnee Mission area’s elected officials with the chance to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. Rep. Tom Cox, Rep. Rui Xu and Sen. John Skubal are scheduled to send updates this week. Here’s Sen. Skubal’s filing:

As I start to pack for my move to Topeka this session, I can’t help thinking about the first journey in 2017. Since that time, we have stabilized the state budget, but are still not back to the 2012 levels of taxation. We will have between $300 and $900 million to start repairing some of the departments that are in need of money to complete the jobs with which they are tasked. Our schools are funded and the legislature is planning to address the inflation issue that was left out of the funding bill. I’m hopeful this discussion will stop the never-ending litigation with which Kansas has been involved.

KDOT has had raids on its funding to pay our government’s operating expenses. Because of these appropriations, the transportation department has been unable to complete the final projects in T-Works which is the State’s last ten year transportation plan. My summer was spent talking with leaders across Kansas about their communities’ transportation needs. From those meetings, we will come up with another ten year plan to move Kansas forward so our citizens and commerce can move freely about our state. This will require dollars that need to be identified. KDOT needs $400-500 million just to maintain the existing infrastructure.

Kansas has mental health problems that need to be addressed. Currently, about one third of the prison population is there because of mental problems. The State must address this issue.

State employees had gone without pay increases for over ten years. In the last two years, all State employees received modest pay raises. The legislature was not included in this pay increase.

I could go on, but I’ve run out of room in my suitcase. Maybe I’d better pack another bag because we have lots to do. We will address the following issues and others as they arise during this session.

  • School finance
  • A constitutional amendment to remove the Supreme Court from school funding issues
  • Transportation funding
  • Medicaid expansion

Please feel free to contact me at my office in Topeka. My office at the Capital is 124-E and my phone number is 785-296-7301. Email: John.Skubal@senate.Ks.gov

Thanks for allowing me to be your voice as I continue to serve in Topeka.
(Yes, I’m taking warm clothes.)