Capitol Update: Rep. Holscher says ‘extremists’ preventing progress on K-12 bill, Medicaid expansion

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. Cindy Holscher, Rep. Jan Kessinger and Sen. Jim Denning are scheduled to send updates this week. Here’s Rep. Holscher’s filing:

We have completed four weeks of the legislative session and where are we?

Honestly, not much further along than we were on the first day. With the election of Gov. Laura Kelley, voters sent a clear message regarding priorities for the state: 1) get our schools fully funded and 2) expand Medicaid. However, the extremists who control the House and Senate are refusing to turn the page on the Brownback days, and are determined to prevent those important priorities from moving forward.

One of the committees on which I serve in the House is K-12 Budget. Our job was laid out months ago; with the formula and funding that was put in place last session, all that is left to do is adjust for inflation. We have dozens of studies and the court even spelled it out for us. It would have been so easy to put a bill together prior to the session or even during the first week. However, the committee chair has elected to fill our days with “informational sessions.” At this point in years past, it wouldn’t have been abnormal to have over a dozen different bills worked in a single committee. Guess how many have been worked in K-12 Budget? ZERO.

This session I am again serving on the Health and Human Services Committee. Similarly, the job here was clarified months ago. With citizens urging the passage of Medicaid expansion along with a Governor who supports it, we should have already had a hearing on the bill. But guess what we’ve been doing in this committee. If you guessed more “informational sessions” you are correct. We did finally get to hear our FIRST bill last week, however, it has not yet been clarified if we will be taking a vote to move it out of committee.

So, that has been the theme so far. Informational hearings used to stall the process. There is so much work that needs to be done to repair our state. And, the clock is ticking. Many of us showed up in January ready to do the work ahead of us; unfortunately, our numbers shrank as result of the 2018 elections. This has allowed the far right extremists to gain more control and push their set of objectives: block Medicaid expansion and deplete revenues (through tax breaks for the rich) so there will be no money left to finish the job on funding our schools. It’s the same agenda as during the Brownback years. And what else continues for these extremists who do not serve the people? They show no shame in their game.