Kansas Ethics Chief A No-Show at Brownback Grand Jury
January 15, 2015

AP) – A Kansas ethics official subpoenaed as part of an inquiry into loans to Gov. Sam Brownback’s re-election campaign didn’t appear as ordered Wednesday before a federal grand jury.

Governmental Ethics Commission Executive Director Carol Williams confirmed she was in her office when the grand jury appeared to be meeting at the federal courthouse in Topeka.

Williams received a subpoena last month ordering her to appear before the grand jury on Wednesday. She declined to say if she’d been asked to appear on a different day.

The subpoena didn’t specify which loans were being investigated, but said they were made in 2013 and 2014. State records show four loans were made during that time: three $500,000 loans from Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, and a $200,000 loan form Brownback and his wife.

George. Brett In Kevin Yoder Campaign Spot
October 24, 2014

Judge Rules for Teacher Performance Evaluation Ballot Question
September 2, 2014

(AP)–A Missouri judge has rejected a legal challenge to a November ballot proposal that asks voters whether to link teachers’ jobs to the performance of their students.

An attorney for public education groups challenging the measure said he intends to appeal Tuesday’s decision by Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment 3 would require schools to adopt teacher evaluation systems based largely on student performance data. Those evaluations would be used in decisions about paying and retaining personnel.

The lawsuit contends the amendment violates the Missouri Constitution by addressing two topics at once — by requiring the evaluation system and limiting the ability to collectively bargain over it.

Green ruled that the provisions all relate to the single topic of teacher employment.

Kansas Waits on Key Budget Numbers
August 29, 2014

(AP) – Kansas officials are awaiting word on whether the state’s tax collections in August met expectations.

The state Department of Revenue’s report Friday afternoon was expected to renew a political debate over massive income tax cuts enacted at Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s urging. Brownback says the tax cuts are stimulating economic growth, but critics contend the reductions are wrecking the state’s finances.

The Legislature’s nonpartisan research staff is projecting that the state will face a $238 million budget shortfall by July 2016, even if tax collections meet the state’s official projections between now and then.

Kansas collected about $4 million more in taxes in July than anticipated, but tax collections in April, May and June fell a total of $334 million short of expectations.

Transportation Tax Goes to Missouri Voters This Year
May 15, 2014

(AP) — Missouri voters will decide later this year whether to raise the state sales tax to generate more than $500 million annually for roads and other transportation projects.

The House gave final approval Wednesday to a proposed constitutional amendment that would impose a three-quarters-of-a-cent sales tax for transportation. The Senate approved the measure previously. That means it will go before voters in November, unless Gov. Jay Nixon sets an earlier election date.

If approved by voters, the general sales tax increase would take effect in 2015 and run for 10 years. It would mark the first time that Missouri’s roads have been funded with something other than a user fee, such as a motor fuel tax, registration fees or a tax on vehicle sales. The projected $534 million of annual revenue would make it the state’s largest-ever tax increase.

Without a new source of revenue, officials at the Missouri Department of Transportation say they soon won’t have money to adequately maintain roads and bridges, much less undertake any major new projects. Over the past five years, Missouri’s construction budget for roads and bridges has fallen from about $1.3 billion annually to $685 million this year. It is projected to dip to $325 million by the 2017 budget.

“One way or the other, we are going to pay for our roads — now or later,” said Rep. Don Phillips, R-Kimberling City. “And now’s the time to take care of this.”

The House gave final legislative approval to the measure by a bipartisan 105-43 vote. The Senate passed it 22-10 last month.