Capitol Update: Of 2019 session, Rep. Cox says much was done, but there’s so much more to go

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 Rep. Cox’s filing:

As we take our April recess I want to take this time to update you on some major issues that have been tackled and those that have not yet.

  • School Funding: On Saturday Governor Kelly signed the bi-partisan school finance bill that many of us believe will finally end the long-standing litigation over school funding. Over the last two years we passed a plan to add $850 million per year in new K-12 funding but it phases in over five years. The court said the funding was adequate but since we phase it in, we must account for inflation. The Kansas State Department of Education calculated that at roughly $92 million. The finance plan allocates the inflation adjustment without altering the original funding. It passed overwhelmingly in both chambers. (I voted yes)
  • Medicaid Expansion: The house passed Medicaid expansion a few weeks back with a large bi-partisan majority. Compromises were met to bring both Democratic and Republican House members on board. (I voted Yes). Sadly, the Senate under President Wagle is refusing to bring it to a vote. Expansion supporters are working every angle to bring it to a vote when we return in May.
  • Transportation Plan: The state puts together 10-year transportation plans. The first part includes policy recommendations that were passed by the House and Senate last week. The second part is identifying the specific projects needed across the state. The Transportation Task Force has accomplished this piece. The third part is providing the funding to implement the plan. This is the piece still being worked on. For years the legislature has used KDOT as a bank by sweeping its funds. In this years proposed budget we reduce those sweeps leaving more money for transportation projects.
  • The Budget: We have yet to pass a budget, which we are required to do by our constitution before we can adjourn for the year. This is not a bad thing, in my opinion. We get our annual revenue forecast numbers in April, which makes it easier to budget for the year. The Senate and House have passed similar but different versions. Both are extremely similar to the Governor’s recommendation, but both chambers removed provisions to fund Medicaid expansion. Additionally, we normally pass a 2-year budget, but at request of the Governor we are passing a 1-year budget while we continue to climb out of the fiscal hole our state has been in.

I look forward to returning in May to wrap up the issues left undone.