Legislative update: Senate inflates, clears irresponsible tax plan
Kansas Action for Children
Feb. 12, 2021
This week at the Kansas Statehouse could inspire taglines from a 1950s monster movie. "BLOATED TAX BILL ESCAPES SENATE." "Kansans flee in terror as new experiment threatens." "Can SB 22 be stopped in time?"
While those old films were fictitious, this new tax bill is unfortunately very real. And it could bring further suffering to Kansans who have already been through the wringer of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read on for more about the bill and other action this week:
FISCAL POLICY: Amendments balloon tax proposal
A huge thank you to everyone who contacted your state senator and urged them to vote no on SB 22 at the beginning of the week. KAC appreciates your engagement on this important issue.
Unfortunately, SB 22 passed out of the Senate after floor debate went well into the evening Tuesday. The bill, with a $175 million fiscal note in the first year when discussion began, ballooned to nearly $500 million in its first year by the time the bill was passed out of the Senate. The bill’s costs increased due to multiple amendments addressing retirees and the standard deduction. While these amendments attempted to broaden the number of Kansans who would benefit from the bill, the bill is now shockingly expensive and irresponsible.
SB 22 isn’t the solution for folks who are going through tough times right now, and its amendments and high cost won’t help Kansans long-term. We will continue to work hard to stop this bill and encourage lawmakers to consider other alternatives to help Kansans during COVID-19 and the economic downturn.
To be clear, the work is not over, and the opportunities for you to weigh in aren’t either. SB 22 will now move to the House. KAC will continue to keep you updated about the progress of the bill, our work to stop it, and how you can help. Onward!
You can contact Director of Fiscal Policy Emily Fetsch at [email protected].
HEALTH: Medicaid expansion would help workers who fall into coverage gap
Budget reviews, telemedicine, and little Medicaid expansion progress, oh my. That sums up this week’s health update from the statehouse. KAC did submit written testimony in support of increasing the aid to local health departments as part of KDHE’s budget.
Next week, Senate health agenda items include a hearing Wednesday on licensure of dental therapists, while the House Social Services Budget agenda includes a hearing Thursday related to newborn screening.
Week Five of the legislative session ended without progress on Medicaid expansion (we hear a bill could be introduced next week), even as Congress discusses possible expansion incentives.
Why does our state need Medicaid expansion? One reason: Many Kansas workers hold jobs without benefits, and their income is too low to qualify for health insurance subsidies (known as a coverage gap). On Wednesday, Children’s Cabinet Executive Director Melissa Rooker highlighted a 2020 needs assessment finding that many Kansas child care providers make $9.25 an hour, firmly placing them in this coverage gap.
Finally, remember that up-to-date Kansas COVID vaccine information can be found on kansasvaccine.gov.
You can contact Health Policy Advisor Heather Braum at [email protected].
EARLY LEARNING: Workshop focuses on local child care
This week, the Finney County Economic Development Corporation held a workshop for communities interested in developing a sustainable local child care system. Over the course of two days, they covered a wide range of topics with a focus on practical solutions and actionable ideas.
It’s encouraging to see how the private sector has come to recognize child care as a priority not just for our parents and children, but also for their businesses. And it’s amazing to see a community take the initiative to develop such a comprehensive program and share it with others.
We all have an interest in making high-quality child care affordable and accessible in Kansas, and this is exactly the kind of collaboration and cooperation that will make that a reality.
You can contact Early Learning Policy Advisor Mitch Rucker at [email protected].
Interested in supporting efforts to promote and improve access to vaccinations in Kansas? Check out the Immunize Kansas Coalition. You can also follow the coalition on social media (Facebook; Twitter; Instagram), to learn more about their important efforts.