Budget update

Neighbors:

Lots going on around our communities right now.  Hope you will get out and support our neighbors and their efforts and events.

Larry and I lost two good friends this week. One was our age and died unexpectedly. The other a lovely lady who had lived a long life. Just helps keep things in perspective that it’s faith and family that matter most!

IT’S THE CRAZY SEASON!

The election is only two weeks away and even I’m tired of seeing ads!  If you live in the 54th District, you are probably getting lots of negative postcards about me. They have lied about everything from my positions on taxes and guns to abortions.  But that’s politics!

What concerns me is that they make it sound so true!   I have heard that even churches are handing out position papers on abortion that are lying about me.  Now that’s disappointing! So if you see something that bothers you and you want to know my position on an issue, just write and let me know.  I’d be glad to visit any time.  Last minute attacks will always be out there, and I will be here to set the record straight!

KANSAS HEALTH CARE COMPACT

Several of you asked me to write something about the bill passed this last session on the Kansas Health Care Compact.  Here you go:

The Kansas Legislature passed a bill that asked Congress to allow Kansas to join other states in a compact to suspend all federal rules and regulations regarding Medicare and other medical services and transfer the decision making authority (and the money in a block grant) from federal to state authorities. Kansas and 8 other states made this request.

Kansas would make its own rules and regulations and manage the funding for Medicare if approved. Kansas could also choose to honor or ignore mandates from the federal government on diseases, infections, drug recalls, and other health care matters.

The bill was submitted to the US House of Representatives in March 2014.  It requires approval of the US House and Senate.  There is some debate as to whether or not it needs Presidential approval.

Since there is no plan in place, it is not clear what kind of Medicare coverage Kansas would have if the state took it over.  Right now Kansas gets about $7 billion in Medicare benefits and that money would come to the state to manage for the 400,000+ Kansans on Medicare.  Lots of unanswered questions, like what happens when you travel to a non-compact state and need health care, would places like the Mayo Clinic accept Kansas Medicare, etc.  We’ll have to watch and see how the bill progresses and what might happen after the mid-term elections in Congress.

BUDGET SOLUTION

The Kansas legislative research group has updated its budget forecast with September revenue results.  They now project that Kansas will have a deficit of about $260 million by June 30, 2016.  The state has to balance its budget by the end of the fiscal year and cannot run a deficit.

The Kansas Policy Institute advises the Governor on economic matters.  They have a suggestion to resolve the projected $1 billion plus deficit we face by 2019.  KPI President Dave Trabert said their recommendations are:

  • cut $1 billion from transportation funds over the next 4 1/2 years
  • reduce funding to K12 schools by $138 million before June 30, 2015
  • cut state colleges and universities by $38 million before June 30, 2015
  • take some of the sales tax money that supports highway funding and transfer it to the general fund

In response, some school districts are already making plans for mid-year budget cuts. I think we can manage this without gutting transportation and schools. But in any case, whoever is in charge in January will have to deal with an immediate $260 million deficit for the 2016 fiscal year.

COMMUNITY CALENDAR

If you have community events coming up, let me know.  This email goes to nearly 3000 homes in Shawnee, Osage, and Douglas counties. I’d love to help you get the word out!  Just remember to send your activities ahead of time.

  • Saturday, Oct. 25:  Tecumseh Kiwanis Club pancake feed and silent auction at Tecumseh United Methodist Church from 7 am to noon.  $5 at the door.  Kids 6 and under free.
  • Saturday, Oct. 25:  The Wakarusa Presbyterian Church hosts its 23rd Annual ham and bean feed from 11:30 am to 2 pm at the church (10135 SW Jordan Rd).  You get great ham and bean soup, corn bread, salad, dessert and drink.  Other soups available. This one is yummy!
  • Sunday, October 26: Hog Roast at the Auburn Community Center, 121 W 11th St, starting at noon.  You can also enjoy the Prairie Pickers from 1-5 pm.
  • Thursday, Oct. 30: Commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of the Blue at Topeka Cemetery (10th and California).  4-6:15 pm.  Events include re-enactors, tours, music, and comments from Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, Adjutant General of Kansas.  One of the re-enactors is Randy Durbin, from Overbrook, who portrays General Thomas Ewing.  Lots of fun for those who love Kansas history!
  • Saturday, Nov. 1:  Berryton Kiwanis Club pancake feed and silent auction at the Berryton United Methodist Church from 7 am to noon. Blueberry pancakes available.  You’ll like them!!  Free will donation.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 5:  Tecumseh Community Dinner at the Tecumseh United Methodist Church.  Free will donation for dinner featuring ham, au gratin potatoes, vegetable, roll, dessert and drink.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 11:  Annual Turkey Dinner at Clinton Presbyterian Church from 5 to 8 pm or they run out.  Turkey, dressing, and the works.  Don’t miss this one!
  • Saturday, Nov. 15: Auburn Ladies Day Out from 9:30 am to 2 pm at the Auburn Civic Center.  Get your Christmas shopping started early with vendors like Premier Design Jewelry, Pink Zebra, PK Country Designs, Avon, Tomboy Tools, Wendy’s Wreaths, and more.

ONGOING EVENTS:

  • There is story time every Thursday evening at the Auburn Library from 6:30 to 7:30 pm.  No charge!
  • Poultry and small animal swap meet at Tractor Supply Company at 710 NE HWY 24 the third Sunday of every month.  Great way to support local farmers as there are fresh eggs, live birds and rabbits as well.  No buyer or seller fees.  Just don’t sell the same stuff the store sells.
  • Enjoy BUNCO at the Carbondale Community Building once a month on Monday and Wednesday afternoons.  Call 785-836-7478 for details about dates, prizes, treats, etc.
  • The Berryton Pickers are at Berryton Baptist Church the first Saturday of the month from 7 to 9 pm.  Bring snacks and have some fun!
  • Swap meet the last Saturday of the month from March through October from 7 am to noon at Premier Farm and Home at 900 SW University Blvd (just west of Forbes Air Field).  Baby chicks, laying hens, guineas, roosters, rabbits, ducks, geese, eating eggs, hatching eggs, and more!  For more info call Karl at 785-547-5046.
  • Country and ballroom dancing at Croco Hall on Thursday nights from 6 to 9 pm.  For information call Edwina Hamersky at 379-9538.
  • NEW: Hometown country music at JR’s Hitching Post Opry in at 205 W Maple in Quenemo. Saturday nights at 7 pm.  Adults $13; $6 kids 7-14.  Under 6 free

Neighborhood and revenue update

NEIGHBORS:

We are enjoying our new grandson, Damon. Mom and Dad and son are doing fine.  We are truly blessed!

My thanks to all those who turned out for the candidate forum at Santa Fe Trail High School this week.  The debate team and community members asked us questions. I appreciate the opportunity to visit about important issues for our state.

REVENUE REPORT

September state revenues were $21 million below estimates and 4.7% less than September of last year.  That puts us about $23 million below estimates for the 2015 fiscal year that began July 1.

The most worrisome thing about the September report is that individual income tax was $42 million (17.9%) below estimates.  The 2015 budget was built on a projected increase of revenues of $300 million in 2015 over 2014.  So we have a ways to go just to end the year in the black. The Legislative Research group has also revised its ending balances to show a deficit of -$260 million the summer of 2016.

CONCERT AT FIELDSTONE ORCHARD

There will be a concert Sunday, October 12, at the home of Marianne and Bruce Curtis at Fieldstone Orchard, 7049 E 149th St, north of Overbrook.  Featured artists are Tim and Myles Thompson.  One is a world champion finger-style guitar player and the other an outstanding fiddler.  You can go to www.timthompsonguitar.com to hear a clip.  A potluck dinner and music start at 6 pm.  There is a suggested donation of $10-$15 to go to the artists.  CDs will be for sale as well.  To RSVP, write to info@fieldstoneorchard.com.

LET’S GET TO WORK!

  • Knox Signs and Graphics is looking for: PT & FT Graphic Artist, Sign Maker and Commission Sales Staff for their fast-paced, fun, family-owned and operated marketing firm in south Topeka.  Send resume and cover letter to Shannon@KnoxWrapps.com or visit them at 5612-D South Topeka Blvd.
  • The Shawnee Heights Fire District is accepting applications for PART-TIME FIREFIGHTER / EMT positions! This is a great opportunity to serve the Shawnee Heights community! No experience is required. All fire and emergency medical training is provided. Applications are available at their stations (SE 29th & Shawnee Heights Road, SE 53rd & California and SE 89th & Paulen Road). Applicants must be at least 18 years old, be of good moral character, have a valid drivers license, be of good health and be able successfully complete a firefighter duty-based written examination, physical agility test and medical screening. Benefits include being part of a great team dedicated to the safety of our community, hourly pay, minimum of 1 hour paid for each call-out, annual bonus based on responses and training completed, Firefighter I and Emergency Medical Technician certifications, modern equipment and safety gear, FRA provided life and disability insurance coverage.

 

 

Community events update

NEIGHBORS:

I’ve been out visiting lots of city councils, school boards, and township boards.  I am impressed with the way these local leaders deal with tough issues with so few resources.  We are blessed to have neighbors willing to step up and do what is often a thankless job.

Looking forward to the Carbondale Fall Celebration next weekend.  This is the time of year when we have lots of community events.  Hope you will be out with me supporting them!

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY FAIR

There will be a Small, Minority, and Women Business Opportunity Fair on Thursday, Nov. 6.  The purpose is to connect small, minority and women owned businesses with exhibitors from various procurement and contracting officers from federal, state, local, and corporate entities, educational institutions and prime contracting sectors.  Business workshops will also be offered.  For more information, contact Rhonda Harris at the Kansas Department of Commerce at 785-296-3425 or by email at rharris@kansascommerce.com.

LET’S GET TO WORK!

  • Express Pros is wanting to hiring in these areas:  Human Resources Director, Systems Administrator, payroll clerk, billing clerk, Administrative Assistant, and general labor.  To apply go to http://www.expresssrg.com/topekaks  Offices in Topeka and Emporia.
  • If you want to start a child care business or if you already have one, there is an 8-week class starting Sept. 8.  Classes will be held from 6:30 to 9:15 pm on Mondays at Childcare Aware, 1100 SW Wanamaker Rd. Cost is $55.  The class will teach the financial side of running a child care business and refer participants to resources for getting certifications like CPR.
  • High school students looking for future work might want to attend the “Electrify Your Future” career night on Sept. 23 from 7 pm to 8:30 pm at the William E Brown Professional Development Center (801 NE US Hwy 24).  The purpose is to orient high school students and their parents to the types of skilled trades available at Westar so students can begin considering well-paying, meaningful careers.  Westar is also going to some area high schools to provide information and do interviews, so contact your high school counselor for more information on those activities.

ADVANCE BALLOTS

If you would like to vote from home this year, you can do that!  It’s a great option for college students, the elderly, busy moms, those who live out in the country, and those who commute each day and get home late.

If you let me know, I’ll send you the AV1M form.  You just fill it out and send it to your county election office.  They will send you the ballot in mid-October.  It has to be back in the election office by 7 pm on election day, November 4.  If you have questions, just write back and let me know.

USS ORISKANY REUNION

Those serving on the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany will have a reunion in Topeka on Sept. 21-24.  Events begin with registration at 6 pm on Sunday, Sept. 21 at the Capitol Plaza Hotel.  There will be a reunion meeting in the Kansas House Chamber on Tuesday at 10 am with Governor Brownback speaking.  There will be a commissioning of a 9-foot model of the USS Oriskany at 5 pm followed by a buffet meal at the Combat Air Museum.  For more information, call the Museum at 785-862-3303.

 

Community update

NEIGHBORS:

School is started, so watch out for kids waiting outside in the morning.  Granddaughter Madi started kindergarten and we had a crowd to see her off on the bus the first morning.  Fun!

I’m having fun meeting lots of new people going door to door.  I appreciate the hospitality and your sharing concerns and ideas about our state.

Enjoyed the Overbrook Parade and Fair last Saturday.  Senator Hensley and I were joined by a group of local teachers.  After the parade I watched some fine-looking animals raised by 4H members get auctioned off.  It was great to see how the community supports these future farmers and business leaders.

LET’S GET TO WORK!

  • If you are looking for work, be sure your first stop is the Workforce Centers in Topeka and Lawrence.  They will help with resumes, job search, interviews and more.  Check it out at www.kansasworks.com.
  • Business owners and entrepreneurs plan to meet at this Osage County After Hours Event: Wednesday, August 20, 4 Corners Steakhouse, 15745 S Topeka Ave. at 6 pm.  Casual networking with no fees.  Bring your business cards.  RSVP to Shannon@knoxwrapps.com.
  • The Capital Journal is offering a new service for employers and job seekers.  At https://jobs.cjonline.com you can create a cover letter and resume and look for a job. For information or to advertise jobs, call 785-295-1125.

JOBS REPORT OUT

State-specific jobs numbers for July were released Monday. Kansas held its own on unemployment.  Kansas was at 4.9%.  Nebraska was at 3.6%, Oklahoma at 4.6%, and Colorado at 5.3%.  The national average was 6.2%.

On job growth, Kansas lags all our neighboring states except Nebraska. We had 13,800 more nonfarm jobs than July 2013.  Here’s how our neighbors did in comparison:

  • Colorado – 65,600 jobs
  • Missouri – 53,600 jobs
  • Oklahoma – 30,200 jobs
  • Nebraska – 2,800 jobs

You would expect states with larger populations to have higher jobs numbers, but Kansas also lags in percent growth. Kansas and Nebraska were in the range of .1% to 1 percent growth for July 2013 to July 2014. Oklahoma and Missouri were in the 1.1 to 2% range.  Colorado was in the 2.1 to 3% range.

CARBONDALE RUN/WALK

The Carbondale Fall Celebration will feature the “Follow Your Dreams” 5k run/walk this year.  Starts at 8 am on Saturday, September 13, at the Carbondale ball diamonds.  Proceeds go to the Fall Celebration.  Register by August 31 by contacting Emily Roberts at 785-836-7871 or by email at eroberts24@yahoo.com.  $25 entry fee includes shirt.

 

Ending balance update

NEIGHBORS:

Can’t believe the summer is almost over.  Had fun at the Night Out Against Crime events in Carbondale and Berryton.  Hope you attended an event in your neighborhood.

Also had some yummy cake and ice cream with the Scranton Lions Club.  Congratulations on 60 years of service to the Scranton community.

AREA CRIME UPDATE

I talked to Sheriff Dunn and she noted that there was nothing major going on in north Osage County.  Southwest Douglas County is quiet as well.

In Southeast Shawnee County there has been some vandalism in the 29th and Croco area.  Mostly tearing up mail boxes.  I noticed more reports in north Shawnee County than south.  Here are some other reported crimes:

Burglaries:  4500 block Adams; 400 block Rice Road; 5200 block SE 45th; 7900 block SW Topeka Blvd; 6600 block SW Arborglade; 6600 block SW Briarcliff Rd

Vehicle break-ins: 7000 block Greenview Dr; 3000 block Croco Rd; 3300 block Croco Rd; 1800 block SW 71st

ENDING BALANCE CLEARED UP; FOSTER CARE NUMBERS UP

1. I heard on the news that the Governor had done a press release saying our state 2014 ending balance was $434 million on June 30.  This was quite a bit higher than the official numbers from Legislative Research.  I called to find out what the discrepancy was.  Here’s the rest of the story.

The $434 million figure did not include bills owed but not paid in 2014.  The state had about $50-60 million in unpaid bills on June 30 that have to be included in the official balance sheet.  When you do the accounting correctly, the state’s ending balance is in the range of $380 million.  That’s good, because it is higher than previous estimates.  But we are still on track to go broke in 2015 and be over $200 million in the hole the following year.

Standard & Poor’s followed Moody’s in downgrading our Kansas bonds from AA+ to AA.  They cited “a structurally unbalanced budget, following state income tax cuts that have not been matched with offsetting ongoing expenditure cuts in the fiscal 2015 budget.”

2. The number of Kansas children in foster care is at an all-time high, with 6,156 children in the system in April of this year.  That means we have 356 more kids in the system than April 2013, and 872 more than April 2012.  Dona Booe, with the Kansas Children’s Service League, said that resources for reaching families before a crisis strikes have been exhausted.  She noted that the increase coincides with changes in policies in the Department of Children and Families.  For example, the number of children getting public assistance fell from 24,567 in 2011 to 11,867 in 2014.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED IN OVERBROOK

The Overbrook Park & Rec Commission is looking for a couple of sports-minded volunteers to help lead the Fall Youth Soccer program.  They will have co-ed teams formed by mid-August.  Anyone interested can contact City Clerk Jim Koger at 785-665-7328.  A background check may be required.

OSAGE COUNTY BUSINESS

  • Carl’s Tire and Lube is hosting Car Care for Women, on Saturday, August 16, from 8 am to 4 pm.  It’s free!  There will be a car care workshop from 10 am to 11 am.  There will be entertainment for the kids while parents attend class.  Carl’s is located at 407 Brownie in Scranton.  What a great idea!  There will also be vendors there including Avon, Candles, Essential Oils, Kat’s Kreations, Goddess Dresses, Bad Ass Bling, 31 Bags and more.
  • Crow Canyon Honey is located at 17076 S Shawnee Heights Road, just south of Overbrook.  The 2014 crop will be pulled in about 5 weeks. Owner Richard Hummel runs the business from his home.  Call 785-665-7053 for information.

KDOT LISTENING TOUR

KDOT and the Kansas Turnpike Authority want to visit with local residents about transportation needs and priorities in their communities.  They want to have projects “shovel ready” when funds become available.  There will be a meeting in our area on Tuesday, October 7, at the Eisenhower State Office Building, 700 SW Harrison, from 9 am to 12 noon.