By Sunee Mickle,
Director of Government Relations,
& Lindsey Scott, Intern, Government Relations,
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas
May 6, 2010
Legislature Returns from Recess
The veto session began April 28 at the statehouse as the Kansas Legislature reconvened with committee meetings. The veto session is typically spent tying up loose ends from previous bills; however this year’s veto session is much different. The Kansas Legislature is spending a majority of their time focusing on budget issues.
Mega/Omnibus Budget Bill
Senate Ways and Means committee introduced a new budget plan Monday and the Senate passed it late Tuesday night 23-17. The Mega/Omnibus budget bill will include funds to cover the $65.3 million shortfall in April tax collections. The funding sources for closing this revenue gap were not certain at the time of publication. The following budget revisions are set to take effect July 1, 2010:
- $25 million from a privilege fee to be paid by the potential operator of a casino in south central Kansas.
- $131 million in extended federal Medicaid assistance. The federal
May 6, 2010
government temporarily increased the paid costs of Medicaid from 60 percent to 70 percent due to last year's stimulus package. Paid cost refers to the federal amount given to states to offset total Medicaid cost. This revision is based on the assumption that the increase will continue for another six months. The bill has passed the U.S. Senate, but not the U.S. House.
- $27 million from recovered state Medicaid dollars found by a private recovery firm.
The Mega/Omnibus budget bill requires about $300 million in new taxes which may come from a companion tax bill.
Senate Companion Tax Bill
The companion tax bill will raise about $417 million in revenue for fiscal year 2011, exceeding the revenue hole of $300 million. The bill was sent to the Senate for debate and it will be heard Thursday.
The tax package would place a 1-cent sales tax increase starting July 1, 2010, which will be worth $344 million to the State General Fund and $21 million to the State Highway Fund. This increase will last until July 2013 when the tax will decrease to 0.3 cents, with all proceeds going to the State Highway Fund. The companion tax bill would also include a disallowance for state business taxpayers of $17 million worth of federal credits for producing products in Kansas instead of
offshore. An amendment at Monday's committee meeting strips out the previously proposed cigarette and tobacco taxes. The previous proposal would have increased cigarette tax 55-cents a pack and increased wholesale tobacco product tax by 30 percent.
House Budget Bill: Feuerborn Amendment
Chief sponsor on the proposed house budget bill is Rep. Bill Feuerborn; proposal details include:
- straight budget, no taxes included
- $131 million that legislators are hoping Congress will grant by continuing the super-match Medicaid compensation (70 percent federal/30 percent state) program through June 30, 2011.
- $170 million is given from Gov. Mark Parkinson's Jan. budget to replace federal K-12 assistance.
The Feuerborn Amendment would cut $218.3 million from the governor's proposed budget; this budget bill is being debated today.
Remaining Senate Bills
Thursday is planned to be a busy day for the Senate as there are many remaining bills on the agenda. The following bills will be up for discussion Thursday and are likely to run debate into the weekend:
- transportation bill: Allowing KDOT to issue bonds which it can pay for with no more than 18 percent of its revenues before a 0.3 cent sales tax beginning 2013.
- slots bill: The slots bill is a debate on whether or not to allow a re-vote in Sedgwick County on the slots-at-tracks issue. Allowing a re-vote and passing would bring in approximately $44 million for the state.
More information on the veto session will be provided as it arises.
Stay informed about the Kansas Legislature and health insurance issues by visiting the following websites:
Follow the Kansas Legislature website at: www.kslegislature.org
Learn more about federal health insurance reform from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas at: www.bcbsks.com/news/SpecialReports/HealthCareReform/timeline.htm
Or the Kansas Insurance Department at: www.ksinsurance.org