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  • June 05, 2015 11:00 AM | Amy Campbell (Administrator)

    As posted at www.kshouserepublicans.com Friday, June 5th, 2015 @ 9:08AM

    TOPEKA–House leaders and House Republican legislators on Friday implored the Kansas Senate to pass the conference committee report on the state budget without delay to prevent state government furloughs.

    The House passed the budget on Wednesday. Without Senate approval and a signature from Governor Brownback, non-essential state government workers in the executive branch will be furloughed beginning Monday.

    “There is no time to waste. Kansans expect state government to be there for them when they need it, and state workers who provide valuable services should not have to endure furloughs because the Senate stalled on taking up the budget,” said House Speaker Ray Merrick (R-Stilwell). “While some parts of this process were unavoidably delayed, this budget plan was constructed over the course of months and the time to act is now.”

    Meanwhile, tax negotiations in order to fill the roughly $348 million hole in the budget the House approved are ongoing.

    “The unfortunate reality is that revenues will be raised this year because we made a commitment to K-12 schools not to cut their funding and we kept that promise with the budget we passed,” said House Majority Leader Jene Vickrey (R-Louisburg). “We scoured the other half of the budget for savings and we implemented them. Now we are going to find a tax compromise and get it passed.”

    The budget passed by the House represents a 2.3 percent increase in FY 16 over the current fiscal year, and a .47 percent increase in FY 17. The slight increases represent funding for K-12 education, KPERS, and social services caseloads. The budget keeps Regents’ funding steady, and also includes a tuition freeze limited to the 2 percent over the rate of inflation. It also includes $3 million to fund an efficiency study that will identify further savings in state government to ensure the most effective use of taxpayer dollars. It imposes a 25 percent reduction on executive branch travel, as well as reduced subscriptions and advertising expenditures for agencies, in addition to other efficiencies.

    “I applaud Senate President Susan Wagle in her efforts to push this process forward, and ask Senate Majority Leader Bruce to join her in the movement to debate and pass the budget we sent them,” said House Speaker Pro Tem Peggy Mast (R-Emporia).

    Representatives who voted yes on the budget conference committee report and join with leadership in calling on the Senate to pass it as soon as possible include:

    Rep. Bud Estes (R-Dodge City); Rep. Mike Houser (R-Columbus); Rep. James Todd (R-Overland Park); Rep. Jack Thimesch (R-Cunningham); Rep Gene Suellentrop (R-Wichita); Rep. Keith Esau (R-Olathe); Rep Lane Hemsley (R-Topeka); Rep. Becky Hutchins (R-Holton); Rep. Steven Johnson (R-Assaria); John Ewy (R-Jetmore); Rep. Sharon Schwartz (R-Washington); Rep. Kyle Hoffman (R-Coldwater); Rep. Mark Hutton (R-Wichita); Rep. Dan Hawkins (R-Wichita); Rep. Ron Highland (R-Wamego); Rep. Kent Thompson (R-Iola); Rep. Randy Powell (R-Olathe); Rep. Steve Alford (R-Ulysses); Rep. Steve Anthimides (R-Wichita); Rep. John Barker (R-Abilene); Rep. Tony Barton (R-Leavenworth); Rep. Rick Billinger (R-Goodland); Rep. Troy Waymaster (R-Bunker Hill); Rep. Sue Boldra (R-Hays); Rep. Kristey Williams (R-Augusta); Rep. John Whitmer (R-Wichita); Rep. Chuck Smith (R-Pittsburg); Rep. Joe Seiwert (R-Pretty Prairie); Rep. Scott Schwab (R-Olathe); Rep. Steve Brunk (R-Wichita); Rep. Travis Couture-Lovelady (R-Palco); Rep. Larry Campbell (R-Olathe); Rep. Blake Carpenter (R-Derby); Rep. Will Carpenter (R-El Dorado); Rep. Susan Concannon(R-Beloit); Rep. Ken Corbet (R-Topeka); Rep. Erin Davis (R-Olathe); Rep. Willie Dove (R-Bonner Springs); Rep. Dick Jones (R-Topeka); Rep. Jim Kelly (R-Independence); Rep. Jerry Lunn (R-Overland Park); Rep. Charles Macheers (R-Shawnee); Rep. Les Mason (R-McPherson); Rep. Les Osterman (R-Wichita); Rep. Jan Pauls (R-Hutchinson); Rep. Richard Proehl (R-Parsons); Rep. Marty Read (R-Mound City); Rep. Marc Rhoades (Newton); Rep. Ron Ryckman Sr. (R-Meade); Don Schroeder (R-Inman); Dennis Hedke (R-Wichita).

     


  • June 04, 2015 4:18 PM | Amy Campbell (Administrator)

    The proposal was as follows:

    CONFERENCE COMMITTEE REPORT BRIEF SENATE SUBSTITUTE FOR SENATE BILL NO. 270

    As Agreed to June 4, 2015 Brief – excerpt from www.kslegislature.org  

    Senate Sub. for SB 270 would make a number of changes in law regarding individual income tax, sales and compensating use tax provisions, motor vehicle registration and taxes, fire district taxation, and taxes on cigarettes, and would enact a tax amnesty for a number of tax sources. Amnesty Provisions The bill would authorize a tax amnesty for penalties and interest relative to certain delinquent taxes provided such taxes are paid in full from September 1, 2015, to October 15, 2015. The amnesty would apply to privilege, income, estate, cigarette, tobacco products, liquor enforcement, liquor drink, severance, state sales, state use, local sales, and local use taxes. The amnesty would be limited to penalties and interest applied to liabilities associated with tax periods ending on or before December 31, 2013. The amnesty would not apply to any matter for which, on or after September 1, 2015, taxpayers have received notices of assessment or for which an audit had previously been initiated. Any fraud or intentional misrepresentation in connection with an amnesty application would void the application and waiver of any penalties and interest.

    Individual Income Tax Provisions Guaranteed Payments - The bill would revise an income tax subtraction modification for certain pass-through non-wage business income to require that guaranteed payments from businesses are counted as income in determining Kansas adjusted gross income. Rate Freeze Individual income tax rate reductions scheduled for future years would be decelerated. The tax year 2015 rates of 2.7 percent for the bottom tax bracket and 4.6 percent for the top tax bracket would become the tax rates through tax year 2018. The tax year 2019 rates would be 2.4 percent and 4.5 percent. The tax rates for tax year 2020 and all tax years thereafter would be 2.3 percent and 4.3 percent. A provision that could provide future formulaic income tax rate relief under certain circumstances, based on the extent to which revenue from a specified group of State General Fund (SGF) tax sources has increased over the previous fiscal year, would be repealed.

    Low Income Tax Exclusion - The bill would provide that individual taxpayers with taxable income of $5,000 or less and married taxpayers filing jointly with taxable income of $12,500 or less would have no income tax liability beginning in tax year 2017. Itemized Deductions

    Modification Acceleration - A number of changes would be enacted for Kansas itemized deductions retroactive to January 1 (the start of tax year 2015). With the exception of charitable contributions, mortgage interest, and property taxes paid, all Kansas itemized deductions would be repealed. The current changes in the percentage that could be deducted (“haircuts”) being phased in for mortgage interest and property taxes paid relative to the amount that otherwise is allowed for federal income tax purposes would be accelerated such that the final 50 percent haircut currently scheduled for tax year 2017 would be effective immediately. (Charitable contributions would remain fully deductible for Kansas taxpayers able to itemize at the state level, as under current law.)

    Individual Development Account Tax Credit - The bill would restore, effective for tax year 2015, a tax credit that previously had been available for certain individual development account (IDA) contributions. That credit had been discontinued beginning in tax year 2013, pursuant to repeal in 2012 legislation.

    ROZ Program - The Rural Opportunity Zone (ROZ) program, which provides an income tax exemption for certain individuals who establish residency in selected counties, would be extended. The program, which is currently scheduled to sunset in tax year 2017, would be extended for two years and be scheduled to sunset in tax year 2019. (The ROZ program also authorizes the repayment of student loans by participating counties and the state under specific circumstances.)

    Christmas Tree Net Gain - The bill would create a subtraction modification from federal adjusted gross income in calculating Kansas adjusted gross income for the net gain from the sale of Christmas trees.

    Social Security Number Requirement - The bill would require an individual claiming a tax credit to have a valid Social Security number for the entire taxable year for which the tax credit is claimed.

    Sales and Use Tax Provisions Sales and Use Tax Rates - The statewide sales tax and use tax rate would be increased from 6.15 percent to 6.65 percent on July 1, 2015. A second rate for purchases of food and food ingredients of 5.95 percent would become effective January 1, 2016.

    Local Sales Tax Provisions - Additional provisions would authorize additional local sales tax authority for three counties—Thomas, Douglas, and Bourbon—for purposes of financing construction or remodeling of a courthouse, jail, law enforcement facility, or other county administrative facility. Thomas County would be granted an additional 0.5 percent authority, Douglas County would be granted an additional 0.5 percent authority, and Bourbon County would be granted additional authority of up to 1.0 percent.

       Relative to this new authority, all counties also would have an exception to the normal countywide sales tax distribution formula, which otherwise requires that funds be shared with cities. Voter approval would be required prior to the implementation of the new tax authority for Thomas County and Douglas County. For Bourbon County, the result of a previously held election would be declared valid for the implementation of the new tax authority.

    Cigarette Tax Provisions - The bill would increase the state’s cigarette tax by $0.50 per pack to $1.29 per pack beginning July 1, 2015. The bill also would establish an inventory tax for all cigarettes on hand as of July 1, 2015. The inventory tax would be $0.50 per pack for cigarettes on hand as of July 1, 2015. The inventory tax would be due on October 31, 2015.

    Motor Vehicle Registration and Tax Provisions - The bill would require the Department of Revenue to mail a copy of the motor vehicle registration application to the owner of a motor vehicle, including all information required to enable the owner to register the vehicle and pay the tax by return mail.

    Fire Districts - A final section of the bill would clarify the property tax levying authority of consolidated fire districts with respect to their authority to levy more than 15 mills.

    Conference Committee Action

    The second Conference Committee on June 4 agreed to amend the contents of House Substitute for SB 270, as amended by the House on Final Action, by changing the repeal of the ROZ program sunset to a two-year extension of the program and retaining its other tax provisions. The Conference Committee also agreed to add provisions related to individual income tax and guaranteed payments, rates, exclusions, itemized deductions, treatment of Christmas tree sale income, and Social Security number requirements for credits; statewide sales and use tax rates; cigarette taxes; and motor vehicle registration and tax provisions.

    Background

    The original bill would have made several changes to the Tax Credit for Low Income Students Scholarship Program Act. The House Taxation Committee, on May 13, struck the bill’s original provisions; recommended a substitute bill be created; inserted various new provisions, including the tax amnesty provisions; and advanced the new substitute bill for further consideration without recommendation. The House Committee of the Whole, on May 15, adopted a minor technical amendment. On May 29, the House amended the bill on final action to remove the contents of the substitute bill, other than the amnesty provisions, and add the other provisions described above as being in the House Committee of the Whole version of the bill.


  • June 03, 2015 1:51 PM | Amy Campbell (Administrator)

    June 3, 2015

    Observers and many Representatives were stunned when the House of Representatives adopted House Sub for SB 112 with no debate with a vote of 64 to 48.  The three minute action left some members wondering if there had been an intentional rush to avoid public debate.  The House Majority Leader indicated that there were no lights on to indicate that members wanted to speak on the proposal.

    This is truly surprising because the House never debated a mega-budget or omnibus budget on the floor this year.  While the Appropriations Committee did develop a budget position in committee and did adopt many of the included positions (including adopting most of the Governor's Budget Amendments) - the committee bill was never brought above the line for debate in the House.  Instead, the Senate adopted a mega-budget bill (crafted by the Senate Ways and Means Committee) prior to the April break and every adjustment since then has been simply inserted into the conference committee, including all post-April items that normally would take shape as an omnibus bill.

    Many legislators believe that this was “as good as the budget would get” at this late date.  The conference committee has also created another option – Senate Sub for HB 2135 would cut an additional 5.7% from all agencies.  While there are some conservatives who would like a chance to vote for that proposal, it would create many problems if passed.  For one thing, our Medicaid program (KanCare) is required to provide “maintenance of effort” according to federal requirements or incur penalties, meaning equal and/or more services and equal and/or expanded eligibility.  A 5.7% cut would have to include provider reimbursement cuts and would reduce the federal funds for the program.  The cut to K-12 Education would almost certainly draw the attention of the Kansas Supreme Court.

    Read the conference committee report and a full explanation of the bill at

    http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2015_16/measures/sb112/

    Scroll below to the chart of “Bill History”.  The bill copy and supplemental note at the top of the page describe the bill as originally passed – and NOT the mega-budget as agreed by the conference committee.


  • June 03, 2015 11:35 AM | Amy Campbell (Administrator)

    Date:               June 3, 2015

     

    From:              Aubrey Waters, Procurement Officer

     

    Subject:           Request for Information #EVT0003819

                            Closing July 10, 2015 2:00pm CST

                            Adult Continuum of Care Project      

    For Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services

                           

    The State of Kansas, Office of Procurements and Contracts posted the above referenced event. Your company was recommended as a potential interested party. You may download the RFI document and specifications from the following website. It is your responsibility to monitor this site for modifications to the event.

     

    http://admin.ks.gov/offices/procurement-and-contracts/bid-solicitations

                                        

    NOTE: Receipt of this notice should not be considered an official “invitation” to bid.

    If you are interested in bidding on this transaction you MUST BE OFFICIALLY INVITED to

    the event. Contact the person named above at least 24 HOURS BEFORE the official finish date and time to request the official invitation. Due to State of Kansas SMART Strategic Sourcing System requirements, any bidder with an interest in bidding on any State of Kansas SOURCING EVENT must officially request an invitation from the Procurement Officer (Event Contact) at least 24 hours before the Bid Event official finish date and time. If you fail to request such in a timely fashion, your response may be rejected in its entirety.

    EXCEPTION: If you have received a Bid Event Document with your company’s name in the upper right hand corner of the document, your company has already been invited to the bid event. If you are not a registered bidder/vendor with the state of Kansas you must register as a bidder AND request official invitation at least 24 hours before the Bid Event official finish date and time. To register as a bidder visit our website:http://www.admin.ks.gov/offices/procurement-and-contracts

     

    Thank you,

     

    Aubrey Waters

    Procurement Officer | Procurement & Contracts

     

    Kansas Department of Administration

    900 SW Jackson, Suite 451 South | Topeka, KS 66612

    Phone: 785-296-2401 | Fax: 785-296-7240

    aubrey.waters@da.ks.gov | www.admin.ks.gov/offices/procurement-and-contacts

     



  • June 02, 2015 7:11 PM | Amy Campbell (Administrator)

    On June 2, the Senate voted 25-13 to pass a basic tax bill to get it into conference with the hope that the conference committee could bring out some tax packages that might get 21 Senate votes and 63 House votes.  The House had already adopted House Sub for SB 270 - containing only "tax amnesty" - the prior week.

    Senate Sub for HB 2109 does not raise enough revenue to solve the $406 million predicted budget deficit for FY 2016.  It is worth noting that the budget bill as proposed by the Conference Committee Report on House Sub for SB 112 has around $400 million of one-time transfers and "fixes" in it.  So, unless revenues increase, a bill raising $406 million may not protect current legislators from having to make difficult tax votes again next session - months before November 2016 elections.

    Contents and History

    HB 2109, as further amended by the Senate Committee of the Whole, would make a number of changes in individual income tax laws, sales and compensating use tax provisions, motor vehicle registration and taxation laws, and property tax laws, and would enact a tax amnesty for a number of tax sources.

    Amnesty Provisions

    The bill would authorize a tax amnesty for penalties and interest relative to certain delinquent taxes provided such taxes are paid in full from September 1, 2015, to October 15, 2015. The amnesty would apply to privilege, income, estate, cigarette, tobacco products, liquor enforcement, liquor drink, severance, state sales, state use, local sales, and local use taxes. The amnesty would be limited to penalties and interest applied to liabilities associated with tax periods ending on or before December 31, 2013. The amnesty would not apply to any matter for which, on or after September 1, 2015, taxpayers have received notices of assessment or for which an audit had previously been initiated. Any fraud or intentional misrepresentation in connection with an amnesty application would void the application and waiver of any penalties and interest.

    Property Tax Provisions

    The bill would prohibit cities and counties from adopting appropriations or budgets with revenues from certain increases in property taxes that exceed the rate of inflation until such resolutions proposing the increases have been approved at a regularly scheduled election. The bill would eliminate a property tax exemption for property used exclusively by the alumni association of any public or nonprofit Kansas college or university.

    Motor Vehicle Registration and Tax Provisions

    The bill would require the Department of Revenue to mail a copy of the motor vehicle registration application to the owner of a motor vehicle, including all information required to enable the owner to register the vehicle and pay the tax by return mail.

    Sales Tax Provisions

    The statewide sales tax and use tax rate for purchases of food and food ingredients would be reduced from 6.15 percent to 5.70 percent on January 1, 2016. Additional provisions of the bill would disallow all sales tax exemptions from applying to purchases made on behalf of any entity benefiting from a sales tax exemption. Only purchases made by the entity benefiting from the sales tax exemption would continue to be exempt from sales tax.

    Individual Income Tax Provisions

    Christmas Tree Net Gain - The bill would create a subtraction modification from federal adjusted gross income in calculating Kansas adjusted gross income for the net gain from the sale of Christmas trees.

    Social Security Number Requirement - An additional provision would require an individual claiming a tax credit to have a valid Social Security number for the entire taxable year for which the tax credit is claimed.

    Background

    The original bill would have amended the Kansas Probate Code concerning transfer-on-death deeds. In a series of meetings beginning May 12, the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee struck the original provisions of HB 2109, recommended a substitute bill be created, inserted many of the other provisions described above and, on May 19, advanced the new substitute bill for further consideration, without recommendation.

    Senate Committee of the Whole – May 27

    The Senate Committee of the Whole, on May 27, amended the substitute bill to reduce the sales tax rate on food to 5.7 percent (the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee version had set the food rate at 6.0 percent); to remove a number of proposed changes in the motor vehicle tax that had been included in the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee version; to remove statutory disposition of revenue provisions that would have effectively produced an equivalent amount of receipts from the motor fuels tax increase for the State General Fund (SGF) at the expense of the State Highway Fund (SHF); to clarify that the payroll tax credit only applies relative to persons employed in Kansas; to reduce the proposed cigarette tax increase to 18 cents per pack (which had been 50 cents in the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee version) while earmarking $10.0 million of cigarette tax receipts for the newly created Tobacco Cessation Fund; and to make a minor technical amendment.

    Senate Committee on Assessment and Taxation – May 30

    At a meeting at the rail on May 30, the Senate Committee on Assessment and Taxation amended the bill to remove provisions making changes to individual income tax laws, sales and compensating use tax provisions, motor fuel taxes, and taxes on cigarettes and tobacco products and recommended the bill favorably for passage containing only the tax amnesty provisions.

    Senate Committee of the Whole – May 31

    On May 31, the Senate Committee of the Whole further amended the bill to add the following: the requirement that a taxpayer have a valid Social Security number for the entire tax year in which an individual income tax is claimed; the provision related to sales tax treatment for purchases made on behalf of an entity that would otherwise benefit from a sales tax exemption; the subtraction modification for the net gain from the sale of Christmas trees; the provision requiring the Department of Revenue to mail motor vehicle registration and tax documents; and the reduction of the sales and compensating use tax rate.

    Senate Committee of the Whole – June 1

    On June 1, the Senate Committee of the Whole further amended the bill to add the provision providing the low income tax exclusion.

    Senate Committee of the Whole – June 2

    On June 2, the Senate Committee of the Whole further amended the bill to add the provision requiring a vote at a regularly scheduled election for cities and counties to adopt budgets including certain property tax increases. Additional amendments removed a provision which would have provided an income tax exclusion to certain taxpayers and lowered the statewide sales and use tax for food to 5.7 percent beginning January 1, 2015.

    Senate Committee of the Whole – June 3

     On June 3, the Senate Committee of the Whole adopted a technical amendment to reconcile provisions contained in the bill. Fiscal Effect The Kansas Department of Revenue indicated the total amount of additional tax receipts collected as a result of the tax amnesty would be $36.088 million, $30.000 million of which would be deposited in the SGF, $2.471 million of which would be deposited in the SHF, and $3.618 million of which would be returned to local units levying sales and use taxes. Certain other provisions of the bill may have a small, but indeterminate, effect upon state and local receipts.


  • June 02, 2015 6:50 PM | Amy Campbell (Administrator)

    June 2 2015 – Tuesday

    The day began with articles and social media quoting the Governor’s office regarding possible state employee furloughs and Senate leadership wanting to limit the day’s tax debate by voting to suspend the rules and not allow the Democrats to “divide the question” during the planned tax debate today. 

    Ultimately, Leadership is attempting to push a Senate tax bill into conference committee, while the budget conference committee tee’d up the debate on the mega-budget, House Sub for SB 112, in the House for Wednesday.

    At their 1:30 p.m. session today the House adopted agree to disagree on SB 112 – new bill brought into budget conference committee in order to provide a Senate based vehicle for the budget.  This is now the mega-budget bill.  Once the Senate adopts an agree to disagree motion on SB 112, the conference committee will be able to adopt a conference committee report on SB 112 and move it forward for action in the House of Representatives.  

    Note that 112 was formerly a bill by Committee on Veterans, Military and Homeland Security - Expedited professional state credentialing for military service members and nonresident military spouses.  2048 moves from Corrections and Juvenile Justice CC to the Judiciary CC to replace 112.   

    At noon on Tuesday, the Budget Conference Committee created three budget options:

    SB 112 is now the mega-budget bill that had been agreed – for the most part – early in May by the conference committee.   There were also amendments made to a number of provisos relating to subscription cuts, reading program, regents, school block grant posting issue, pension obligation bonds, MCO insurer’s tax revenue, capturing unspent dollars in the education block grant extraordinary needs fund, and the fund for county reimbursements. 

    HB 2135 – was the mega-budget bill that passed the Senate late March – amended to include the mega-budget as agreed early in May by the conference committee – PLUS additional 2% executive agency cuts, but exempts K-12, Regents, state hospitals, public safety agencies.

    HB 2010 – the “nuclear option” – includes the mega-budget bill as agreed early in May by the conference committee – PLUS additional 6% across the board cuts – no exemptions.

    By mid-afternoon, the conference committee altered the options, with Senate Chairman Masterson moving to remove the 2% option, instead making HB 2135 an across the board 5.7% budget cut on top of the cuts within the mega-budget as agreed earlier.  No agencies would be exempted from these cuts.  HB 2010 is apparently out of consideration for now.  The rumor is that Masterson wants to run the 5.7% option in the Senate, but others disagree.

    The Senate adopted a tax bill Tuesday afternoon – Senate Sub for HB 2109. 

    The Senate debated tax policy for four days – in full debate on the floor – with no success.  So, Senate Leadership brought forward a plan to move a base bill into conference.

    Members adopted a controversial amendment from Senator Jacob LaTurner, establishing a property tax lid, requires public vote to increase property taxes by city or county.  It passed 30-10, but local governments will be very opposed. 

    There was extended debate on the most consequential amendment (by Senator King).  It would not bring the fiscal note of the bill fully in line with the $400 million revenue needed to fully fund the mega-budget as currently described in House Sub for SB 112, but would help get a tax bill into conference.  The purpose is to put a conference-able bill into conference committee for three senators and three representatives to hash out. King’s comprehensive amendment includes taxpayer amnesty, Christmas tree, social security number requirement, Baumgardner Dept of Revenue amendment regarding letters to taxpayers, repeals the alumni association exemption and maintains LaTurner’s amendment.

    The odd part of this discussion is that the House already passed House Sub for SB 270 last week – which only included the amnesty plan – anticipated to bring in $30 million.  So, technically, there is already a “conference-able” bill.  Either way, the conference committee would be creating a tax package that includes provisions, such as increasing sales tax or rolling back some of the income tax repeal for small businesses that are distasteful to numerous legislators.  When voting on a conference committee report, it is either a yes or no -  there is no longer an opportunity for amendments.  So, members of the Senate protested this direction. 

    The final amendment – by Senator Francisco – reinserted the language to decrease the food sales tax rate to 5.7%. 

    The bill passed 25-13.

    See similar article with bill description.

  • June 02, 2015 2:27 PM | Amy Campbell (Administrator)

    http://cjonline.com/news/2015-06-02/grocers-child-advocates-await-legislatures-next-move-food-sales-tax

    Grocers, child advocates await Legislature's next move on food sales tax:

    Only one state, Mississippi, taxes food purchases at a higher rate

    Posted: June 2, 2015 - 11:51am

    Kansas already has the nation's second-highest sales tax for food, leaving grocers and child advocates wary of a potential increase as lawmakers wrangle with a $400 million budget gap.

    By Justin Wingerter

    justin.wingerter@cjonline.com

    As the Kansas Legislature continues its prolonged search for a solution to the state's $400 million budget gap, grocers and child nutrition advocates are watching what happens to the state’s sales tax rate for unprepared food.

    Most states and the District of Columbia don’t collect sales tax on food and many states that do offer a lower tax rate for food compared to other items. Kansas, however, currently taxes food at the same rate – 6.15 percent – as other consumer goods. Only Mississippi, with its 7 percent sales tax rate, places a higher state sales tax on food purchases than Kansas.

    In a plan that didn’t pass the Kansas Senate on Monday, the sales tax rate on food would fall to 6 percent but not until six months after the overall sales tax rate was increased to 6.5 percent. On Saturday morning, Gov. Sam Brownback put forth a plan that would not create a separate sales tax rate for food, meaning the rate for food would increase to 6.5 percent.

    Half of Kansas’ four neighboring states, Oklahoma and Missouri, tax unprepared food sales. Oklahoma’s tax rate is 4 percent while Missouri’s is 1.225 percent.

    John McCormick, president and CEO of the Retail Grocers Association of Greater Kansas City, represents grocery stores in both Kansas and Missouri. McCormick says residents on Kansas’ northern and eastern borders often cross into Nebraska and Missouri for cheaper groceries.

    “It’s just one more thing that could, and does, push people across the line,” McCormick said. “Gas is fairly cheap right now so they may drive across for cigarettes and liquor and while they’re there, they’re going to buy their groceries over there.”

    McCormick said minor changes to the sales tax on food would create a lot of work for grocery store employees, who must electronically reset the rates each item is taxed at, while providing very few savings for consumers.

    Shannon Cotsoradis, CEO of the Topeka-based nonprofit child advocacy group Kansas Action for Children, agrees.

    “That’s not the kind of modification that’s really going to make a difference for struggling families,” Cotsoradis said.

    Cotsoradis said the state’s comparatively high tax rate on food forces the state’s poorest families to decide between buying quality food and paying bills, such as rent and electricity. It also curbs the ability of low-income parents to buy nutritious food for their children, prompting them to purchase low-quality food in bulk instead, according to Cotsoradis.

    Kansas City-based nonprofit group KC Healthy Kids points to a survey conducted last year by Fort Hays State University researchers which found 73.5 percent of the 2,203 Kansas adults surveyed supported eliminating the sales tax on food while 13.1 percent somewhat supported it.

    “In addition to making healthy food more affordable for Kansans, cutting the food tax could help smaller and rural grocery businesses in the state by encouraging customers to shop in Kansas rather than in neighboring states with lower food taxes,” the group argues.

    McCormick said he also supports eliminating the sales tax on food.

    “I’m a proponent of zero taxes on unprepared food,” McCormick said. “That would help the lower-income wage earners.”

    While Kansas Action for Children has supported eliminating the sales tax for food in the past, Cotsoradis said the group isn’t lobbying for it in the current political climate. Instead, she’s hoping lawmakers “hold the line” and ensure the rate isn’t increased.

    A report released Monday by KC Healthy Kids and Wichita State University researchers found Kansas’ sales tax on food is regressive, hitting the budgets of low-income families and individuals significantly harder than middle- and upper-class consumers.

    “For the case of a family of three living in a metropolitan area, we find that the incidence of taxing groceries is under 0.2 percent of household income for those with income greater than $150,000 per year, while it is over 5 percent of household income for those households with income less than $10,000 per year,” the researchers wrote.

    Justin Wingerter can be reached at (785) 295-1100 or justin.wingerter@cjonline.com.
    Follow Justin on Twitter @JustinWingerter.


  • May 01, 2015 11:22 AM | Amy Campbell (Administrator)

    Bill in Conference Committee to Create Medicaid Mental Health Medications Advisory Committee

    Senate Sub for HB 2149 is currently in conference and expected to pass.  HB 2149 was originally a bill to provide for Medicaid coverage of donor breast milk.  The Senate added the provisions of SB 181 and a new plan for instituting management of mental health medications in Medicaid through a specialized advisory committee.  The bill amends the procedures regarding restrictions of patients’ access to any new prescription-only drug under the Kansas Medicaid Program and would establish meeting requirements for the Medicaid Drug Utilization Review Board (Board). 

    Further, the bill would allow prior authorization or other restrictions on medications used to treat mental illness to be imposed on Medicaid recipients for medications subject to guidelines developed by the Board in accordance with provisions of the bill; establish instances not to be construed as restrictions; provide for the development of guidelines; establish requirements for Board review of medications used to treat mental illness available for use before and after July 1, 2015; and create a Mental Health Medication Advisory Committee (Committee), outlining Committee membership and appointments, meeting frequency, and member compensation.   

    Advocates view the new provisions as a better option than SB 123 - which would have simply deleted the statutory exemption from Medicaid management for MH drugs.  SB 123 was defeated by the Senate.   Read more about this issue.


  • April 20, 2015 8:41 PM | Amy Campbell (Administrator)

    House Appropriations Apr 23-24, Senate Ways and Means Apr 28

    The Consensus Revenue Estimating Group met April 20 and the report contained more bad news – forecasting $98.2 million reduced revenues for FY 16 and $100.8 million reduced revenues for FY 17.  The current fiscal year estimates reduced revenues of $87.5 million – and increased adjustments of $244.5 million, mostly from the passage of the rescission bill in February.  It is not clear where the $157 million difference will leave the overall budget for FY 15 – ending June 30.  But the mega-budget bill will require further adjustments unless significant tax policy bills are moved forward.

    Even with the Governor’s Allotments last Fall, the rescission bill H Sub for SB 4) addressed a $300 million budget shortfall for fiscal year 2015 (ending in June) to prevent the state from defaulting on its financial obligations. The legislation included several transfers, cuts and delays in funding, including $158 million from the State Highway Trust Fund, $7.9 million in delayed payment to the Kansas Employment Retirement System and $7.1 million from the Job Creation Program Fund. The House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 88-34. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 24-13 sending it to the Governor to sign into law on February 16.

    Currently, Senate Sub for HB 2135 remains in conference committee – this is the 2015 Legislative Session’s Mega-Budget Bill.  Only the Senate has passed a mega-budget bill this session, which puts the House of Representatives in the uncomfortable position of having to either concur with the version as it emerges from conference, or send it back for more work.  There is no opportunity for floor amendments unless they move forward their own House bill.  The House and Senate Conference Committee ended its negotiations with a tentative agreement, but did not move it to the floor for concurrence – choosing instead to hold it over to the Veto Session.   It is likely that the late session budget adjustments that typically are passed in an Omnibus bill will simply be rolled into Senate Sub for HB 2135.  As it stands, the bill spent about $16 million more than the Governor’s proposed budget – ending up around $141 million below revenue estimates.

    The Appropriations Committee will meet this week and Senate Ways and Means will meet next week to cover the discussion of omnibus items.  State Budget Director Shawn Sullivan indicated today that the Governor will be meeting with his staff this week to make recommendations for revenue enhancements.  His policies for increasing tobacco and liquor taxes, as well as some income tax adjustments, have seen no action to date.  Both bills had public hearings during the regular session.

    House Appropriations Committee -  Thursday April 23 beginning at 10:00 am and Friday April 24 beginning at 9 am in Room 112-N

    Senate Ways and Means Committee  - Tuesday April 28 beginning at 3 pm in Room 548-S


  • April 03, 2015 10:41 PM | Amy Campbell (Administrator)

    April 1, 2015      by Association of Health Insurance Plans

    Contact:
    Ben Jenkins

    Washington, D.C. – States in which Medicaid plans manage prescription drug benefits are realizing large-scale savings, according to a new analysis by The Menges Group.

    The study, “Comparison of Medicaid Pharmacy Costs and Usage in Carve-In Versus Carve-Out States,” examined 35 states and DC that used the Managed Care Organization (MCO) model in their Medicaid program and either included (carved-in) or excluded (carved-out) pharmacy benefits from coverage.  The report found that carve-in states outperform carve-out states by a wide margin, saving Medicaid $2.06 billion in state and federal expenditures in 2014 alone. 

    With regard to significant cost savings in carve-in states, and in light of their better coordination of services, the authors conclude: “Our findings suggest that states that maintain prescription drugs as part of the MCO benefit are able to achieve cost savings while at the same time provide highly integrated care.  The pharmacy carve-in model appears to resoundingly fulfill both objectives.”

    Key findings of the report include:

    • Across 28 states using the carve-in model, the net cost per prescription was 14.6% lower than the average net cost per prescription in states not carving in pharmacy.
    • This 14.6% differential created a $2.06 billion net savings in state and federal expenditures in FFY2014 for states deploying the carve-in model.
    • The seven carve-out states had a 20% increase in net costs per prescription from FFY2011-FFY2014 -- in stark contrast to the 1% increase in net costs per prescription experienced by the 6 states that recently switched from a carve-out to a carve-in model.
    • The seven carve-out states “missed” a total of $307 million in savings in FFY2014 which would have occurred had they used a carve-in model.

    “Medicaid plans’ ability to provide coordinated care through pharmacy benefits is crucial for beneficiaries and critical to protecting taxpayers and state budgets,” said America’s Health Insurance Plans President and CEO Karen Ignagni. “Allowing health plans to coordinate health and pharmacy benefits is essential for improving and maintaining the health of Medicaid  beneficiaries and protecting limited state resources.” 

    To view the full analysis, click here

    For more information on how carving pharmacy into Medicaid managed care organization (MCO) benefits is critical for beneficiary outcomes, click here

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