Week 10 was spent working on the 2018-19 budgets in the Ways and Means Committee. Mid-week, we passed a budget bill out of committee that should be voted on this next week on the Senate floor. This bill is debatable and amendable when it is being worked on the floor. The budget relies on borrowed money from the Pooled Money Investment Board (PMIB). The loan will borrow all the remaining balance from the investment fund.
A few of the projected line items in this bill consist of: The 2018 budget has provisions outlined to provide a 2-percent salary increase across the board for state employees. The salary increase would total approximately $22.5 million. The last salary increase for state employees was in 2008. There is a possibility the salary increases might be postponed until the 2019 budget year, if state revenues do not generate enough to include raises in the 2018 budget.
Included in the budget are KPERS payments due for 2018. This bill also will include a transfer of more than $200 million from KDOT. Fourth-quarter payments to the schools are due to be paid yearly at the end of June. For a number of years, these payments have been pushed back to the first part of July in order to help balance the budget. This June payment again has been projected to be delayed in 2018. In order to balance the 2018 budget, tax increases will be necessary. Next week after the budget is passed out of the Senate chamber, I will outline additional changes that will be included in the budget.
Sub SB 69 allows for KanCare updates and reforms. These include standardizing provider credentialing and payment processing, which will reduce the number of procedures needing prior authorization among other reforms. We have heard from many hospitals, medical clinics and hospital associations that the Legislature needs to consider updates and reforms to strengthen the program. This was passed out of the Senate.
Another bill of interest was passed out of Financial Institutions, Insurance and Pensions, which would simplify KPERS rules for working after retirement. This bill will be debated next week on the Senate floor. I will follow up in next week’s newsletter with additional information.
On Thursday and Friday, the Senate Ways & Means and the House Appropriations conference committees had our first joint meeting to reconcile the rescission bill for the 2017 budget. The way this process works, the conferees negotiate back and forth on the differences in the Senate 2017 rescission budget and the Houses positions on their rescission budget. There were approximately 17 line items that differed from the two chambers. Several of the positions on the differences were agreed to at the first meeting. We will meet again Monday and continue to meet until each line item is agreed upon.
Non-exempt committees have wrapped up their work for the year, but exempt committees (Federal & State Affairs, Assessment and Taxation, Ways & Means) still will be able to meet in the coming weeks. The Senate plans to be on the chamber floor all week debating and voting on legislation.
Rick Billinger, R-Goodland, represents the 40th District in the Kansas Senate.