Archive for the ‘kansas city’ Category

Kansas Revenue Estimates Off in July
July 31, 2015

(AP) – Kansas collected about $3.7 million less in taxes than it expected in July, largely because of lower-than-anticipated revenues from its newly increased sales tax.

The state Department of Revenue reported Friday that the state collected $417.6 million in taxes, when officials projected $421.3 million. The shortfall is 0.9 percent.

The report came a day after Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget director announced $63 million in adjustments to the state’s $15.4 billion budget to lessen the chances of a deficit. Lawmakers last month increased sales and cigarette taxes as well.

Sales tax collections were $189.1 million for the month, or $3.9 million less than expected. The shortfall was 2 percent.

But the state’s personal income tax collections were $3 million more than expected, at $153 million. The surplus was 2 percent.

House Democratic Leader Tom Burroughs of KCK said, ““Given that this is the first month of the fiscal year, I am concerned state revenue is already down.”

Brownback Administration Announcing $50 Million Mote Budget Cuts Thursday
July 30, 2015

AP) – Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget director is preparing to outline $50 million in adjustments aimed at keeping Kansas from having a deficit.
Budget director Shawn Sullivan’s news conference was Thursday afternoon at the Statehouse.
The governor’s office said beforehand that Sullivan would discuss recommendations for reducing costs and shifting funds within state government to cover general expenses. It was not more specific.
Brownback was not attending the news conference because he was meeting with Wichita business owners.
GOP legislators counted on Brownback’s administration making adjustments under a plan to balance the state’s $15.4 billion budget. The plan approved also increased sales and cigarette taxes this month.
The state’s budget problems arose after lawmakers cut income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback’s urging to stimulate the economy.

Kansas Civil Rights Commission Looking at Voting
July 30, 2015

(AP) – The Kansas division of a federal civil rights commission will investigate whether voter identification laws have affected turnout around the state.
The Kansas Committee of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission voted Tuesday to hold hearings to determine if turnout in some communities has been suppressed, KCUR-TV reported (http://bit.ly/1SMwZAi ). The committee also agreed to ask Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who strongly advocated for the laws, to testify at its hearings, which are expected to take place early next year.
“My office would be happy to appear before the Kansas advisory committee and point out the success of the Kansas photo ID law,” Kobach told The Associated Press late Wednesday afternoon.
Committee chairwoman Elizabeth Kronk said there is concern that the law “disproportionately impacts certain age groups and certain racial categorizations.”
“It is fair to say the committee has acknowledged this is an area of controversy,” said Kronk, who is also a law professor at the University of Kansas.
The state committee can recommend that the full U.S. Civil Rights Commission in Washington take up the case.
The General Accounting Office released a report in October 2014 comparing election turnout in Kansas and Tennessee, states that tightened voter ID requirements between the 2008 and 2012 elections, to voting in four states that didn’t change identification requirements. Reductions in voter turnout were about 2 percent greater in Kansas and from 2 percent to 3 percent steeper in Tennessee than they were in the other states examined, the report showed

LeVota’s Relations with Top Advisor Strained Before Firing
July 29, 2015

Relations between Jackson County State Senator PaulLeVota and his Chief of Staff Ron Berry were strained in the week’s leading up to Berry’s firing late Friday afternoon, according to sources.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports LeVota fired Berry via e-mail Friday afternoon. Less than two hours later, LeVota announced his own resignation.

LeVota says he resigned because the allegations of sexually harassing female interns, including University of central Missouri student Alissa Hembree, who worked for him were distracting him from his job.
LeVota maintains he did nothing wrong.

A report from the student’s school, the University of Central Missouri, stated the “preponderance of the evidence supports that the Senator engaged in unwelcome sexual advances and made unwelcome sexual comments directed against Ms. Hembree”

Sources say LeVota believes Berry mishandled the of case of former intern..

A Senate report on the incident says Hemrbee went to Berry a week after LeVota made unwanted sexual advances toward her in late January, 2015.

The report says Hembree told Berry she wanted to keep the incident “off the record”.

The sources say LeVota did not think Berry had had that option of keeping the charges confidential. LeVota believed Berry was boundas a Senate employee to report what he was told to Senate authorities, according to the Senate’s policy against harassment on the job..

The senate report, described Berry as, “the primary contact for student interns in LeVota’s office”

But sources say Berry did not feel he had a supervisory roles, despite the Chief of staff title.Some think Berry felt cut off from the office, especially in the final days.

A source close to Sen. LeVota said the senator had lost confidence in Berry because Berry differed with LeVota in public over policy issues.

Normally a Chief of Staff is considered a lawmaker’s most trusted advisor.

Petition Drive To Block KC Minimum Wage Law
July 29, 2015

(AP) – A new group of business owners is gathering signatures on petitions seeking to force a referendum to overturn a new law that will gradually increase Kansas City’s minimum wage to $13 an hour.
Missourians for Fair Wages, which represents restaurant, hotel and other business associations in Missouri, must collect about 3,400 signatures by Aug. 25 to challenge the minimum wage law approved by the Kansas City Council July 16. The law would raise Kansas City’s minimum wage from $7.65 per hour to $8.50 per hour on Aug. 24, with annual increases to $13 per hour by 2020. Cost-of-living adjustments would be made in subsequent years. Workers 17 and younger are exempt from the increases.
If the petition drive is successful, the council would either repeal the ordinance or put it to public vote sometime next year.
Opponents contend the increased minimum wage, which makes Kansas City the only municipality in Missouri with a wage higher than the state’s current $7.65 minimum, will hurt workers because employers will reduce the number of minimum wage jobs. Supporters of the increase say it will help lower-income workers make a living wage and improve the economy by putting more money in people’s pockets.
“The minimum wage ordinance was done quickly and is a risky experiment,” said David Jackson, spokesman for Missourians for Fair Wages. “It has the potential to cause job loss in Kansas City. If you raise the price of employment, you get less of it.”
Supporters of the new minimum wage law are “disappointed to say the least” with the new petition drive, said Caitlyn Adams, deputy director of Missouri Jobs for Justice, a social justice organization that pushed for the wage increase. The petition drive will delay the implementation of the first minimum wage increase on Aug. 24 and could push any increase into the next year if the issue is put to a public vote, she said.

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