Thursday, March 05, 2009

Ann Mah update

District 53 Constituents and Friends:



The House is continuing to work bills from the Senate and develop a budget for the 2010 fiscal year (starting July 1, 2009). We are learning more about what federal stimulus money might be coming our way and what we have to do to get it. I also have news about fuel tax money coming to Shawnee and Douglas counties for roads and highways. See details below.



2009 BUDGET UPDATE

February revenues were short $12 million below estimates. We already received $71 million from the federal stimulus package for Medicaid that will be credited to this 2009 fiscal year, so that pretty much ensures we will get through June 30 in the black.



2010 BUDGET UPDATE – STIMULUS MONEY FOR KANSAS

We now know what stimulus monies could be coming to Kansas and Governor Sebelius incorporated some of that money into her revised 2010 budget. The Governor put about $600 million in spending cuts into her 2010 budget, but we will have a bigger deficit than that. The stimulus money will bridge the gap and help us avoid deeper cuts to services and education. Kansas expects to get about $1.7 billion over the next 27 months.



About $900 million goes to projects or programs that we would not have done without the money (i.e., highway projects). So while that money is helpful in providing jobs and revenue for the state, it does not help with our budget deficit problem. About $800 million of the stimulus money will help our budget deficit and it comes in the following four areas:

a. Medicaid: Currently the cost of Medicaid (our state’s second largest expenditure) is split 60%/40% with the federal government. For the next 27 months the federal government will increase its share to 66.2%. That saves us $103 million in the 2009 fiscal year, $200 million in the 2010 fiscal year, and $102 million in the 2011 fiscal year. The condition attached to this money is that we cannot increase eligibility requirements for Medicaid. Without the stimulus money, we would have been forced to remove thousands of Kansas from medical services. This money allows us to provide medical services to 8000 more children and maintain current levels in other areas.

b. Education: An estimated $367 million is available to maintain minimum support for K12 schools and higher education. To get this money, we have to keep funding them at either 2008 or 2009 levels, whichever is greater. Higher ed funding was greater in 2008, and K12 funding was greater in 2009. The Governor recommends we maintain these levels through the 2010-2011 school year and accept the federal funding.

c. Fiscal Stabilization: An estimated $81 million is available to prevent deeper cuts in public safety or other government services.

d. Special education: An estimated $107 million is available for special education. The Governor recommends $53.5 million be used in 2010 and $53.5 million in 2011.



There is also $68 million available to provide assistance for unemployment insurance. To access this funding, we would need to adopt some changes in eligibility requirements. This will help employers keep unemployment insurance costs lower.



The stimulus money is targeted to maintaining fiscal stability in the states and the bulk of the money is distributed through the states. This does not mean we will avoid the pain of budget cuts. The Governor’s plan still cuts programs, closes facilities, freezes new hires, and reduces spending. The Governor believes her recommended cuts along with the stimulus money will get us through the next two years without deeper cuts to existing services and leaves a positive balance in the bank.



CROCO ROAD CLOSING

Croco Road from Sycamore (interstate entrance) to 6th Street (Hwy 40) is scheduled to be closed until August 14. Sycamore westbound to Rice Road and Interstate 70 will remain open. Herrman’s Excavating is the contractor.



FUEL TAX MONIES COMING TO SHAWNEE AND DOUGLAS COUNTIES

The legislature agreed to return monies that Shawnee and Douglas counties (among others) were shorted over the last three years due to a miscalculation on fuel taxes. We should receive the money in the next couple of months. Since budgets are set for this year, it will not have an impact this year, but could help next fiscal year. Here is the breakdown for our area:



Shawnee County - $1.4 million

City of Topeka - $1.6 million

Douglas County - $1.15 million

Tecumseh township - $20,456

Soldier township - $46,023

Williamsport township - $16,660

Monmouth township - $21,818

Topeka township - $5,263



YOUR OPINIONS

On my online poll you said that:

1. Kansas should have a primary seatbelt law that allows you to be stopped for not wearing a seatbelt alone.

2. You do support a statewide ban on smoking in most public places (except private clubs, casinos, and some hotel rooms).

3. The oversight of sexually oriented businesses should be done by local government and not state government.

While my online poll is not “scientific”, it is helpful to know the temperature and where I might need to do more polling.



DOLE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS DUE

The Robert J. Dole Public Service Scholarships are $1000 each and are awarded to up to 128 graduating high school seniors. Students can be from public or private schools, must have at least a 3.0 GPA, be involved in a significant amount of volunteer community service activities, and be enrolling this fall full-time at a state university or Washburn University. APPLICATIONS ARE DUE MONDAY, MARCH 9. Go to www.sms.scholarshipamerica.org/senatordolepublicservice for details.



GOT COFFEE??

I will have a pot of coffee on for you this Saturday, March 7, from 8 am to 10 am at the Java Bar at Ice & Olives, 29th and Croco Road. Drop in for some conversation and information. Hope to see you there.



As always, it is an honor to serve.



Regards,



Ann Mah

State Representative – District 53

www.annmah.org





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