30 April 2024 | Tax and Budget

2024 Omnibus Budget Bill

Alice Fitzgerald | April 30, 2024

Last week, the House Committee on Appropriations and the Senate Committee on Ways and Means met to discuss omnibus items.  

An omnibus bill is a single bill that combines multiple items or policies. In the Kansas Legislature, the omnibus budget bill is a large bill that comes after the mega budget (SB 28 this year) to tie up loose ends before the legislative session ends.  

The omnibus process has pros and cons. For one, it allows legislators to address items constituents care about that weren’t originally prioritized in the mega budget bill. Additionally, lawmakers may push items to omnibus because they either expect more information, believe that other legislation will take care of the item, or will have a better idea of available funding due to vetoed bills or other fiscal impacts. Omnibus bills also give the Governor time to propose amendments before and during the April legislative recess.  

However, problems arise when legislators get in the habit of pushing items or moving an item for discussion at omnibus to gain more political leverage or try to sneak something into the budget without much feedback from the public or other interested parties.   

Once the individual committees have made their decisions on remaining budget items, they negotiate their differences through a conference committee.  

The Omnibus Budget Bill Conference Committee met well into the evening on April 26. Some of the kid- and family-related items that were acted on include:  

  • Add $12.0 million for Equifax Workforce Solutions to assist with benefit eligibility determinations and verifications. This program would check eligibility for benefits monthly, even though the state is only able to determine and reverify eligibility every year as per federal law. 
    • Outcome: The Conference Committee agreed not to add the funding.
  • Add $4.8 million to extend Medicaid coverage for dental exams, x-rays, and cleanings for FY 2025. 
    • Outcome: The Conference Committee compromised and added $4.8 million of total funding, including $1.9 million from the State General Fund (SGF).
  • Add $4.5 million in total funding, including $3.0 million from the SGF, and language concerning Mental Health Intervention Team program for FY 2025. 
    • Outcome: The Conference Committee agreed to add the funding and the language. However, $1.5 million of the $4.5 million added is allocated for non-public schools. 

  • IDD/PD Waivers 
    • Add $892,473, including $500,000 in SGF for Community Developmental Disability Organization administration related to the 500 new slots added for FY 2025.  
      • Outcome: The Conference Committee agreed to add the funding. 
    • Add language authorizing the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) to waive rules and regulations for day service providers for individuals with an I/DD for FY 2025. 
      • Outcome: The Conference Committee agreed to add the language.

Surprisingly Positive Outcomes 

Though the Omnibus Process can be convoluted and the lack of oversight can allow legislators to use items for political leverage, we are pleasantly surprised with the conference committee’s decisions. Major items that we have been advocating for were added, such as funding to cover preventative dental care, x-rays, and cleanings. Additionally, more improvements to the I/DD systems were added, demonstrating major successes for the disabled community, which has been fiercely advocating for the I/DD and PD waiver programs throughout the session.  

Throughout the session, Medicaid advocates have been concerned about the Equifax Workforce Solutions proposal to spend $12.0 million on software that could not be used legally. And the implications if the program was used was worrying, because, despite federal regulations, Medicaid recipients experiencing major life events such as losing a job, or a loved one could have been given no leniency. The conference committee deciding not to add funding for the Equifax Workforce Solutions is a remarkable defensive accomplishment for Medicaid advocates as this item could have undermined much of the improvements to Medicaid included in SB 28.  

With the Budget Conference Committee having completed its omnibus work, the bill heads to the floor to be voted on by both chambers right before lawmakers adjourn for the year. While the legislative work is essentially complete for the year, the start of the next year’s budget process will start back up soon. Learn more about how the budget works and how advocates can get involved for their priorities.  

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