Monthly Archives: April 2009

Given the projected $1 billion FY 2010 State General Fund (SGF) budget shortfall at the start of this year’s legislative session, many Kansas lawmakers (myself included)
have been anxiously awaiting two critical pieces of information to get a better sense of the types and sizes of cuts needed for a balanced budget. That information includes: 1) the April 2009 consensus revenue estimates, and 2) how the federal stimulus package (“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009”, or “ARRA”) will assist the states. Over these past few weeks the second so-called piece of the puzzle is starting to fall into place as legislators have been learning about ARRA and how it will affect Kansas. I wanted to share this information with you with the hope that you can not only get a better idea about the various tax and spend decisions your state legislators will be making for the upcoming FY 2010 budget but understand the possible challenges future state budgets could be facing.

ARRA, which was signed into law by President Obama on February 17th, is a $787 billion initiative that seeks to stimulate economic growth in education, health care,
transportation, energy and other programs via federal spending increases, tax cuts, and other provisions. Over $300 billion is targeted for state governments and state-
related programs and is primarily done through various grant-in-aid programs. Kansas can expect to receive approximately $1.7 billion through more than 37 different
federal grant programs. Five of those programs (State Fiscal Stabilization Fund for public schools and higher education institutions – $449.17 million, Federal Medicaid
Assistance Percentage – $402.18 million, Highways and Bridges – $347.81 million, Special Education – $115.24 million, and Title I Education – $93.03 million) will receive
over $1.4 billion. The positive impact of these funds is already being felt as Kansas received $71.5 million in additional Medicaid assistance last month and will greatly
assist lawmakers in crafting both FY 2010 and FY 2011 budgets.

Not surprisingly, there are lots of stipulations regarding how Kansas can use these grant monies. For example, Kansas could receive an additional $68 million in funding if it
adopts more flexible unemployment eligibility criteria. But ARRA’s big help will be in Kansas’ ability to supplant over $483 million in Medicaid and State Fiscal Stabilization
Fund – Flexible spending with federal stimulus dollars over the next few budget cycles, thus avoiding draconian cuts and/or tax increases. Given that ARRA monies will have run out by June 30th 2011, the next real budget challenge could possibly come in the 2011 legislative session when the legislature puts together a 2012 budget.

Revenue Shortfalls Make for Tricky Veto Session

Given the projected $1 billion FY 2010 State General Fund (SGF) budget shortfall at the start of this year’s legislative session, many Kansas lawmakers (myself included) have been anxiously awaiting two critical pieces of information to get a better sense of the types and sizes of cuts needed for a balanced budget.  That information includes: 1) the April 2009 consensus revenue estimates, and 2) how the federal stimulus package (“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009”, or “ARRA”) will assist the states.  Over these past few weeks the second so-called piece of the puzzle is starting to fall into place as legislators have been learning about ARRA and how it will affect Kansas.  I wanted to share this information with you with the hope that you can not only get a better idea about the various tax and spend decisions your state legislators will be making for the upcoming FY 2010 budget but understand the possible challenges future state budgets could be facing.
ARRA, which was signed into law by President Obama on February 17th, is a $787 billion initiative that seeks to stimulate economic growth in education, health care, transportation, energy and other programs via federal spending increases, tax cuts, and other provisions.  Over $300 billion is targeted for state governments and state-related programs and is primarily done through various grant-in-aid programs.  Kansas can expect to receive approximately $1.7 billion through more than 37 different federal grant programs.  Five of those programs (State Fiscal Stabilization Fund for public schools and higher education institutions – $449.17 million, Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage – $402.18 million, Highways and Bridges – $347.81 million, Special Education – $115.24 million, and Title I Education – $93.03 million) will receive over $1.4 billion.  The positive impact of these funds is already being felt as Kansas received $71.5 million in additional Medicaid assistance last month and will greatly assist lawmakers in crafting both FY 2010 and FY 2011 budgets.

Not surprisingly, there are lots of stipulations regarding how Kansas can use these grant monies.  For example, Kansas could receive an additional $68 million in funding if it adopts more flexible unemployment eligibility criteria.  But ARRA’s big help will be in Kansas’ ability to supplant over $483 million in Medicaid and State Fiscal Stabilization Fund – Flexible spending with federal stimulus dollars over the next few budget cycles, thus avoiding draconian cuts and/or tax increases.  Given that ARRA monies will have run out by June 30th 2011, the next real budget challenge could possibly come in the 2011 legislative session when the legislature puts together a 2012 budget.

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Thank you for letting me serve as your State Senator. I always appreciate knowing where you stand on the issues our state is currently facing. I can be reached at (785) 296-7372 (daytime) or (785) 865-2786 (evenings).  My e-mail address is Tom.Holland@senate.ks.gov. Also, if you would like to be added to the mailing list of my e-mail newsletter which is published every two weeks during the session, please send me your e-mail address.
Clarifying the Individual’s Right to Keep and Bear Arms

Earlier this year I was extremely pleased to co-sponsor a concurrent resolution (SCR 1611) that would affirm an individual’s right to keep and bear arms in the state of Kansas.  The proposed resolution’s language is simple and direct – “A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, for lawful hunting and recreational use, and for any other lawful purpose.”  The resolution resoundingly passed in both legislative chambers (39-1 in the Kansas Senate, 116 – 9 in the Kansas House) and will appear before Kansas voters on the November 2010 General Election ballot.

The resolution is in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June 2008 regarding the Second Amendment.  In their landmark decision, the Court struck down the District of Columbia’s 32 year old gun law that banned handgun possession and also required that shotguns and rifles be kept unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock.  The court’s ruling, in a 5 to 4 split decision, did away with years of lower court decisions that had held that the intent of the amendment was simply to allow state militias the right of gun possession.  In writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, “We hold that the District’s ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense.”  Scalia further added that the Second Amendment “surely elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.”
If approved by Kansas voters, SCR 1611 would unambiguously trump the Kansas Supreme Court’s most recent ruling (City of Junction City v. Lee – 1975) affirming that gun ownership is a collective versus an individual right.  However, it is also interesting to note that the Court subsequently appeared to contradict itself when it overturned a city gun control ordinance on the basis that it was “unconstitutionally overbroad”, thereby implying that the right to bear arms was in fact an individual right (City of Junction City v. Mevis – 1979).
I have always believed that an individual should have the right to keep and bear firearms for lawful purposes, and I believe that SCR 1611 clarifies that right once and for all.  Come the November 2010 General Election, we will finally hear the decisive voice of the Kansas voters and see if they agree.

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Thank you for letting me serve as your State Senator. I always appreciate knowing where you stand on the issues our state is currently facing. I can be reached at (785) 296-7372 (daytime) or (785) 865-2786 (evenings).  My e-mail address is Tom.Holland@senate.ks.gov. Also, if you would like to be added to the mailing list of my e-mail newsletter which is published every two weeks during the session, please send me your e-mail address.

Paid for by Tom Holland for Kansas Senate
Kris Marsh, Treasurer