22 May 2020 |

RELEASE: Final meeting of the Legislature missed the mark for Kansas families most in need

May 22, 2020

TOPEKA, Kansas — The Kansas Legislature’s final meeting of the session on Thursday and Friday was more than a disappointment. It was a shame. And not only because lawmakers didn’t pass important bills, but also because of how some conducted themselves.

A small number of ideologically driven legislators overrode the wishes of the majority in both chambers by turning aside Medicaid expansion — a policy that would have bolstered both Kansans’ health and our economy in the middle of a pandemic.

Kansas Action for Children appreciates all of those senators and representatives, Republicans and Democrats, who braved the risks of COVID-19 to serve in the Statehouse for a marathon meeting. But it was clear that leaders’ priorities were not on the challenges of kids and families who are struggling to meet their basic needs. Tens of thousands were on the brink before the pandemic, and even more have joined them in recent weeks.

KAC expected and hoped to see significant discussion and action about how our government can support our fellow Kansans in these extraordinary times.

It never happened.

“Barring a special session, it will be seven months before the Legislature reconvenes,” said KAC President John Wilson. “That’s more than 200 days that tens of thousands of Kansans will go without health insurance and the life-saving treatments that can come from it.

“That’s more than 30 weeks that parents will struggle to put food on the table, pay the rent, and provide the basic supports their children so desperately need. That wait will be fatally long for some, and miserable for the rest. And why? Because some lawmakers would rather score political points.”

Over the last decade, Kansas saw what happened when leaders prioritized ideology over the people of their state. The tax “experiment” largely ended in 2017, but we are still learning about the way it harmed children in the foster care system and families throughout the state. We’re facing even larger challenges now, and we must put the people of Kansas first.

This fall, every single seat in the Kansas Legislature will be on the ballot. Voters across the state will have their say. KAC will be educating residents across the state about the needs of our kids, and how the right policies can make a difference.