As I mentioned in previous updates, the tax revenue estimates for the month of January were $47.2 million less than expectations, and with the rescission bill passed to address the $280 million shortfall for fiscal year 2015, there are still additional items that need to be addressed. This prompted Gov. Sam Brownback to announce on Feb. 5 there would be reduced allotments that would affect K-12 and higher education in order to address a continued budget shortfall.

The reduced allotments of 2 percent of the Regents' system and 1.5 percent for K-12 will result in additional funds in the State General Fund of $44.5 million. The governor stated in his press release that "even with the allotments, Fiscal Year 2015 funding for higher education remains $20 million above Fiscal Year 2014 funding. State Aid for K-12 funding in Fiscal Year 2015 remains $177 million higher than Fiscal Year 2014 funding." These allotments are scheduled to take effect March 7.

The effect to the Kansas Department of Education with the new allotment would be a reduction of $28,300,635. I have not received an itemized list of all of the school districts in the 109th Kansas House District and what the financial effect will be on them.

We did receive the impact that this allotment plan will be for our institutions of higher learning. Here are some of the institutions and the impact of the allotment:

* Board of Regents -- $4,506,34.

* University of Kansas -- main campus $2,702,462; KU Medical Center $2,099,947.

* Kansas State University -- main campus $2,150,195; ESARP $949,476.

* Wichita State University -- $1,489,632.

* Fort Hays State University -- $679,762.

Constitutional carry

During the early weeks of the 2015 session, the Senate introduced a bill that would allow Kansas to be a constitutional carry state. This means Senate Bill 45, if passed by the Senate and House, would create an avenue for concealed carry of handguns without a license in Kansas. If this bill was to pass, it would not repeal the existing concealed carry handgun licensing law we have.

The intent of this bill is to allow any Kansan who can legally own a handgun the ability to legally carry the weapon in public without a license. Even though Senate Bill 45 would exclude the requirement a Kansan must have a permit in order to carry a concealed weapon, when asked about the possible legislation while working on the Office of the Attorney Generals' budget in the House General Government Budget, Attorney General Derek Schmidt did say Kansans who still travel out of state would need to have an issued permit in order to comply with other states' concealed carry laws.

There would be an impact to the Attorney General's budget since they anticipate if Senate Bill 45 would be passed, they would definitely see a decrease in the number of initial and renewal applications.  

Transparency Act

House Bill 2148, also known as the Transparency Act, received a bill hearing in the General Government Committee Friday. The bill, beginning Jan. 1, 2016, would create a pilot program that would broadcast audio of legislative committees that meet in particular committee rooms in the Capitol building. The broadcasts would be required to be available in real time for the public to access. Also, the bill states that all broadcasts will be archived and available on the Internet.

The legislative chief information technology officer would provide all the operations and maintenance of the audio broadcasts and equipment. The committees meeting in these certain committee rooms could suspend the broadcasting requirement by a two-thirds vote of the committee's voting members when there is an equipment failure and the purpose of the vote is not to avoid the requirements of the bill.

If this bill was to be passed, the legislative chief information technology officer would then identify four committee rooms within the Capitol that would be equipped with audio broadcasting equipment before the beginning of the 2018 session and would be able to broadcast all of the remaining committee rooms by the 2019 session.

It has been determined the cost to broadcast these committee hearings will cost the state of Kansas $77,000 in Fiscal Year 2016 and $34,000 the next year. All monies to fund the Transparency Act would come from the State General Fund.  

Negotiations and visitors

On Tuesday, the House Education Committee worked House Bill 2034 regarding teacher negotiations. The bill that was worked in the House committee is not the same bill as House Bill 2257, which would amend the Professional Negotiations Act.

The House Bill 2034 is considerably different than House Bill 2257.

House Bill 2034 did generate contentious debate with an amendment proposed to replace the contents of the bill with that similar to House Bill 2257. However, that amendment failed to pass through committee.  

Last week, I had many visitors. On Tuesday, Elin Colglazier stopped by my office. I did have a chance to meet with Roy Doonan, Great Bend; Janae Talbott, Russell; many local members of Kansas Farm Bureau from Lincoln, Jewell, Smith and Russell counties; and also the county treasurers from Smith, Rush and Russell counties.

Rep. Troy L. Waymaster, R-Bunker Hill, represents the 109th District in the Kansas House.

troy.waymaster@house.ks.gov