January 31, 2020

Capitol Connection is your weekly report from KAC's Vice President Adrienne Olejnik on happenings at the Statehouse and issues affecting Kansas children and families. For more updates, follow KAC on  Facebook  and  Twitter .

For Adrienne's perspective, see her Twitter account!
Happy (belated) Kansas Day!

KAC Director of Policy and Research Emily Fetsch bought this lovely bouquet of sunflowers for Kansas Day. We hope your celebration of this state was just as vibrant.

Medicaid expansion update

Sheldon Weisgrau
In this week's episode of the KAC Podcast, Communications Director Clay Wirestone talks with Sheldon Weisgrau, the senior policy advisor at Alliance for a Healthy Kansas.

We outline the goals of the health care program and how it could benefit Kansas families.  Since Medicaid expansion began, Kansas has passed up nearly $4 billion in federal funds -- resources that could have supported families and communities throughout the state.

KAC wrote about ways to maximize the program for Kansas kids in this brief from last year, created with the United Methodist Health Ministry fund.

Listen to the podcast interview with Sheldon, then head over Apple or Stitcher to subscribe for future episodes!

Pricey tax proposal

On Wednesday, the House  tax committee held a hearing on HB 2005, which would allow state filers to itemize without doing so on their federal return. While the proposal sounds attractive, it's rife with unintended consequences that will cost Kansas dearly.

On the most basic level, it's too expensive. New analysis from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy suggests it would reduce revenue by $80 million yearly. Without replacement revenue, that's a nonstarter for a  state still rebuilding from its last fiscal crisis.

Kansas will also have to take on fraud monitoring to ensure that taxpayers don't abuse the system, as opposed to piggybacking on the IRS. That means the state will be required to simultaneously spend money while losing revenue.

And as currently written, the bill would target wealthier Kansans without addressing those children and families most in need. Only 1 in 10 taxpayers in the bottom 80 percent of income would benefit, while 4 in 10 of the top 20 percent would.

You can read the full testimony from Kansas Action for Children here. Rest assured, you will be hearing more from us on tax conformity in the weeks ahead.

Child care licensing

SB 312, which would create a civil penalty for individuals running an unlicensed child care facility , was introduced by Sen. Pat Pettey and 20 co-sponsors. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee next Tuesday.

This proposal is identical to HB2228, which passed out of the House Children and Seniors committee last year and awaits a vote by the full House of Representatives. It doesn't create any new rules or regulations. Instead, it gives the state a way to enforce the laws we already have on the books.

Kansas Action for Children will be submitting testimony in favor of SB 312 because, while we are very concerned by the wait lists for child care that exist in many parts of the state, we believe it is essential that those providing care are licensed and meet the requirements put in place to keep kids safe, healthy, and learning.

See you next week!
-- Adrienne