Kansas Block Grant School Plan Headed to Court

March 27, 2015 - Leave a Response

(AP) – The plaintiffs in a school funding lawsuit have filed a motion to block the governor’s new school funding plan.

The motion was filed Thursday and calls on the court to bar the state from enacting the law overhauling the way the state distributes aid to schools. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed the plan into law Wednesday. His office referred questions to the attorney general’s office.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general says the administration will defend the rewritten school finance law in the courts.

The three-judge panel has ruled that it may move to preserve status quo and will hear arguments for blocking the law May 7.

The law scraps the state’s school funding formula and gives each district a fixed amount of money for the next two years.

Kansas May Issue Bonds to Cover Pensions

March 27, 2015 - Leave a Response

(AP) – Kansas is moving closer to issuing $1 billion or more in bonds to bolster its pension system for teachers and government workers.

The House and Senate have approved rival plans, even though many lawmakers view issuing bonds as financially risky.

Gov. Sam Brownback advocates the borrowing as part of a larger plan to reduce annual pension costs and help balance the state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

House and Senate negotiators expect to work on a compromise next week.

Thanks to laws enacted in recent years, the state pension system is on track to close a projected $9.8 billion gap between revenues and the benefit costs from now until 2033.

But those laws require increasing state contributions, and Brownback argues that the payments will strain the budget.

Who Wants to Buy Kemper?

March 25, 2015 - Leave a Response

The end continues to approach for Kansas City’s Kemper Arena. A City Council committee approved a plan to eventually put the 40 year old arena up for sale.

The City’s manager’s office will draw up a request for proposals to see if anyone, anywhere,wants to buy the facility.

The building was replaced by the modern Sprint Center in 2007. Since then, business and events have dwindled. The city now callsKemper “surplus property ‘.

“That means no other city department can use the property. It’s excess. The city doesn’t need it,” said Councilman Ed Ford.

Ford says Kansas City’s American Royal show, Kemper’s last consistent tenant, has announced it is no longer interested in buying the building. The Royal wanted the City to tear Kemper down and pay for half of a smaller replacement building.

Another proposal to convert the arena into a two-floor youth sports center was also withdrawn.

Former City Councilman Dan Cofran has been resisting Kemper’s destruction. He is pleased with the decision to seek another buyer. Cofran, however, concedes he’s not sure who is interested.

“I do not have specifics. It’s important for the process to get underway. And this is where you begin it,” he said.

Kansas City still owes more than $4 million in bond payments from a remodeling project in the 1990’s. The finals bond payments will be made next spring.
Just bare maintenance of the building would cost the city nearly a million dollars a year.

The request for proposals should be drawn up within a few weeks. Ford says the City will hunt for a buyer for about 90 days.

“If there is none, then the next City Council will have to decide whether or not to tear it down or preserve it,” according to Ford

Kansas House Votes to Drop Concealed Carry Permit Requirement

March 25, 2015 - Leave a Response

AP) – The Kansas House has approved a bill that would allow gun owners to carry concealed firearms without a permit.
The vote Wednesday was 85-39. The bill passed by a healthy margin even though some members have misgivings that the state would no longer require training to carry concealed.
The Senate passed the measure last month, but the House made a technical change in committee that senators have to review.
The measure is expected to go eventually to GOP Gov. Sam Brownback. The National Rifle Association says Kansas would become the fifth state to allow concealed carry without a permit everywhere within its borders.
The House also voted 100-24 to pass a bill prohibiting cities and counties from imposing special fees and taxes on guns or gun sales.

Teacher Bargaining Bill Defeated in Topeka

March 25, 2015 - Leave a Response

AP) – A bill that would have forced a re-negotiation of all teacher salaries at the end of their current term was defeated in the Senate.
The Senate voted 13-27 to reject the bill Wednesday. It would have also eliminated the current teacher pay scale by narrowing salary talks between school boards and teachers unions to minimum salary.
Republican Sen. Jeff Melcher from Leawood inserted the changes into the bill and said they would help school reward good teachers and fire underperformers.
But, opponents said the bill would undercut the competitiveness of teachers’ positions by reducing job security and base salary.
Across the rotunda, the House passed a bill that would allow state agencies to deny civil service benefits and protections to new hires and employees changing positions.

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