House delves into corrections funding

On Thursday, the House of Representatives conducted final action on the budget for the Department of Corrections for fiscal year 2015. Last year, the House and Senate passed two budgets, one for 2014 and the other for 2015. Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law the funding for the Department of Corrections for 2014; however, he vetoed the funding for the department in 2015. The Legislature knew we would need to address that in order to have the Department of Corrections funded for fiscal year 2015.

The bill that passed the House to fund the Department of Corrections is House Substitute for Senate Bill 245. In this bill, the governor recommended operating expenditures for fiscal year 2015 of $399 million, which would include $363.6 from the State General Fund.

The Department of Corrections initially had requested $402.6 million. The governor, however, recommended reducing the funding for the department predominantly because the governor did not concur with the department's central office or other facility enhancement requests.

The House Appropriations Committee worked SB 245 and made the following adjustments from the governor's recommendation: remove $2.2 million for salary increases; remove $357,121 in the budget of the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex for a 20-percent reduction in educational services; remove $266,384 from the budget of the Larned Juvenile Correctional Facility for a 20-percent reduction in educational services; remove $641,186 and 14 positions the governor had requested for the Topeka Correctional Facility, and language was added that any funding left at the end of fiscal year 2014 in the Inmate Benefit Fund would transfer to the Treatment and Programs Fund.

Also on Thursday, the House debated HB 2464, which pertains to deductions on corporate income taxpayers. Previous legislation from 2011 allowed corporate income taxpayers to claim an expense deduction from Kansas net income for qualifying machinery and equipment purchases. This legislation from 2011 only applied to corporate income taxpayers and did not address that of privilege taxpayers. The apparent oversight made it impossible for bank holding companies to have the equivalent tax treatment afforded to non-banks. The bill provides the same expense treatment to privileged taxpayers, which corrects the apparent oversight made in 2011.

This week, the House passed many bills out of the chamber to the Senate.

House Bill 2453 passed the House and would take affect if the 10th Circuit Court would invalidate the Kansas State Constitutional Amendment regarding marriage that took affect in 2005. I do support the constitutional amendment, and I hope it is not overturned; however, if this happens, then the bill would take effect.

House Bill 2429 grants the chief engineer at the Division of Water Resources within the Department of Agriculture the authority to regulate the water rights conservation program.

House Bill 2446 would allow the chief judge of a judicial district where the office of court trustee has ceased to exist to authorize expenditures from the Court Trustee Operations.

Rep. Troy L. Waymaster, R-Luray, represents the 109th House District, which includes portions of Smith, Osborne, Russell and Rush counties.

troy.waymaster@house.ks.gov