Opinion: Fiscal Responsibility Critical to Rebuilding Kansas

Just two short years ago, the State of Kansas found itself on the brink of financial disaster. Even after depleting state savings and enduring multiple rounds of devastating budget cuts, unsustainable tax policy continued to perpetuate fiscal crisis. We saw schools close and class sizes grow. We saw an overwhelmed child welfare system let children fall through the cracks. And despite promises of immediate prosperity, Kansas routinely ranked among the nation’s worst in multiple economic indicators.

Governor Laura Kelly
Laura Kelly was sworn in during the Kansas Governor Inauguration ceremony this past week. Kansas Governor Kelly took office on Jan. 15, 2018, with a ceremony that was held on the steps of the capitol building in Topeka, Kansas.

As the budget hole continued to grow, the legislature passed two sales tax increases, swept more than $2 billion from the state highway fund, delayed numerous payments to the state pension system, accumulated historic levels of debt, and raided every critical investment from early childhood education to public safety. But in the end, none of these short-term band-aids could stem the bleeding caused by the reckless Brownback tax experiment. In November of 2016, Kansans called for change.

The very next year, the state hit “reset” in a historic act of bipartisanship with the passage of comprehensive tax reform. Our credit score improved within a week. The number of Kansans participating in the labor force increased for the first time since 2014.

We have only just started the rebuilding process. Our recovery is uncertain; our budget is fragile. The State of Kansas cannot afford to make a U-turn now.

Senate Bill 22 – another reckless tax plan – would absolutely dismantle all the progress we’ve made. It would throw our state once again into a self-inflicted budget crisis, diminishing all the investments we’ve worked so hard to rebuild and restore. It would put our future at risk once again in order to give significant tax breaks to entities who need them the least while continuing to leave working families behind.

I share Kansas lawmakers’ desire to keep the state tax burden as low as possible and that will continue to be a priority. In January, I presented a structurally balanced budget that funded our schools and roads, reduced state debt, left Kansas with the largest ending balance in 20 years and did so all without a tax increase.

I was a math major. This is about basic math. My budget proposal left a healthy, fiscally responsible ending balance. If I had signed Senate Bill 22, the budget that just passed the Senate would fall to more than $600 million in the hole within two years.

That is unacceptable. That is irresponsible.

We must be patient, thoughtful, and prudent as we evaluate tax policy. And, when we move forward with sustainable, commonsense tax relief, we must ensure that it benefits the Kansans who need it the most. We will focus on reducing the sales tax on food and providing real tax relief to working families.

The people of Kansas elected me to rebuild our state. They elected me to bring fiscally conservative and responsible principles back to our government. And I refuse to endorse another round of fiscally reckless policies – similar to the Brownback tax experiment – that left our state in shambles and our families struggling.

I commit to you – the people of Kansas – that I will stabilize our state’s budget, invest in our shared priorities and continue the recovery we have all fought so hard to begin. By following through on this commitment, our state has every reason to expect a bright and successful future.

Governor Laura Kelly

Governor of Kansas

Topeka, KS

 

Lawrence Presbyterian Manor Earns Zero-Deficiency Rating for Assisted Living

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Lawrence Presbyterian Manor earned a zero-deficiency survey from the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services following its assisted living inspection March 15, 2019.

Senior living communities that offer assisted living are surveyed by their licensing agency for compliance of regulations established by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. These regulations are designed to ensure a standard of care is met. By meeting this standard, senior living communities are able to renew their licenses and continue to provide care.

“Every day I see our employees go above and beyond in the care they provide,” said Christie Patrick, executive director. “This recognition is tangible proof of our commitment to providing quality senior care and services based on Christian values. The way you want to live is more than a tagline for Lawrence Presbyterian Manor; it is a culture built on the understanding of compassionate service to seniors—a foundation of trust for families and their loved ones.”

Lawrence Presbyterian Manor is a continuing care retirement community (CCRC). Its assisted living neighborhood, which is licensed by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, is inspected every 12 to 18 months to ensure quality, of care. Residents have their own private residences and may receive some assistance with activities of daily living.

For more information about Lawrence Presbyterian Manor’s Assisted Living options, contact Angela Fonseca, health care marketing director, at 785-841-4262 or afonseca@pmma.org.

Walmart is Closing 9 Stores, Eliminating Graveyard at Others

BENTONVILLE, AR — According to Business Insider, Walmart quietly closing nine stores in eight stores including,

one Walmart Supercenter in Lafayette, Louisiana, and seven Walmart Neighborhood Market stores in Arizona, California, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.

The article reported that most of the stores will close on April 19, 2019.  This after they closed 269 stores in 2016 and another 60 Sam’s Clubs locations last year.

The full list of closing Walmart Stores is below:

Supercenter Location:

    • 1229 NE. Evangeline Trwy., Lafayette, Louisiana

Neighborhood Market  Locations:

  • 3900 W. Ina Road, Tucson, Arizona
  • 1600 Saratoga Ave., San Jose, California
  • 712 N. Western Ave., Liberal, Kansas
  • 3603 Broad River Road, Columbia, South Carolina
  • 2501 University Commons Way, Knoxville, Tennessee
  • 7000 Iron Bridge Road, North Chesterfield, Virginia
  • 2864 Virginia Beach Blvd., Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • 7809 NE. Vancouver Plaza Dr., Vancouver, Washington

Walmart Neighborhood Markets are about one-fifth the size of a Walmart Supercenter, and they are typically in areas that are more than where Supercenters are located. These stores focus primarily on selling groceries,

according to the Business Insider article.

Eliminating Graveyard Shifts

In other reports, the company is also reportedly cutting hours at least one-hundred of its 24-hour locations.  While several reports say one-hundred, the report from Bloomberg says three-hundred.

Although Walmart would not confirm what stores will be affected by this change.

Walmart Inc. is cutting the graveyard shift in hundreds of stores while also expanding the use of a labor-saving product sorting machine — the latest efforts by the world’s largest retailer to whittle down expenses across its sprawling U.S. operations.

The company is eliminating the overnight shift that restocks the aisles at about 300 stores, and will aim to transition those employees to other hours. The impacted stores are primarily smaller ones with lower annual sales or customer traffic. At the same time, Walmart’s expanding the use of a backroom conveyor system that takes boxes of products from trucks and scans them to speed their delivery to the shelves. The so-called “FAST Unloader” machine will be in 1,700 stores by the end of the year, up from 400 now.  – Bloomberg

Hawver: Calendar is Ticking

Well, the clock, or rather, calendar, is ticking–or whatever calendars do to make noise—on the tax bill that the Republican legislature sent to Democrat Governor Laura Kelly, who doesn’t want it.

Martin Hawver
Martin Hawver

And…that ticking clock is aiming toward Friday, the 10th day that the governor will have had the tax bill–that she didn’t want passed–on her desk. By or on Friday, she can sign the bill (in which case, we suspect a breath alcohol test would be in order), veto as expected or allow it to become law without her signature (another breath test?).

You know the story, the $220 million bill that she continues to say she doesn’t like and which she said would return Kansas to the former Gov. Sam Brownback “tax experiment” days that drained the state budget and caused massive reduction in services.

The bill is good for an initial estimated $137 million in tax cuts for businesses which have international earnings the federal government is now taxing, about $50 million for individual income taxpayers, about $42 million in reduced sales taxes on food and about $21 million in additional revenues to the state from taxing some Internet purchases. That all adds up to about $220 million less money coming into the State General Fund in the year which starts July 1.

(OK, time for the cultural explainer: Conservatives say that the income tax bill’s provisions aren’t a tax cut, they are merely a tax stabilizer. Those conservatives say Kansas didn’t change the federal tax code that makes more money available for Kansas to tax, and those “adjustments” just keep Kansas from profiting from the federal tax law change.)

Timing is the big issue here. Kelly will have to do something with the tax bill before there are solid numbers on how the federal tax law changes the state’s tax receipts from corporations and individuals.

Kansas leaders aren’t likely to know just how much “extra” federal trickle-down money the state is going to receive from that December 2017 federal tax law change until April 18. That’s when the state’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Group figures out how much money the state is going to take in next year, and presumably how much of it is from those federal tax law changes.

By the way, the Legislature will be on Spring Break on April 18, will return for its “Veto Session” May 1, and have 16 days to work out the tax/budget issue before coming to the end of its traditional 90-day session.

Hmmm…taxes and spending, the two major duties of the Legislature, and so far, there’s been passed a major tax-cutting bill before lawmakers know how much they need to spend next year. Admittedly, lawmakers are working on what they call the “Mega” budget, which is essentially, well…the essentials for operating government. There will be at session’s end the “Omnibus” bill to deal with new expenditures, to reshuffle spending once they know just how much money they will have to spend and to figure out what they can afford.

But the tax bill action this week is going to shuffle everything. Veto the bill, there’s more money to spend, sign (or allow it to become law without the signature of Kelly) and there’s less money to spend.

Who’s in the gunsights: Look for the real scrap to be over the biggest tax reduction, that for corporations, which want the tax cut badly but don’t vote.

The tax bill, interesting fight between the Governor and the Republican-dominated Legislature. We’ll see whether the revenue report April 18 resuscitates any of those tax cuts…

 

By Martin Hawver

Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report—to learn more about this nonpartisan statewide political news service, visit the website at www.hawvernews.com

Credit Score Myths And Facts Explained By National Debt Relief

The article starts off by highlighting the importance of financial knowledge. There are times when Ignorance may be bliss, but not when it comes to credit scores. Lack of knowledge, or knowledge that’s inaccurate, can damage credit scores, which will cost people money in higher interest rates or keep them from obtaining new credit when you need it.

One of the top myths people believe in is feeling secure with their score when one of them is good. It is important for consumers to remember that there are three credit-reporting agencies: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Each agency may have different credit information reported to it, so the credit report from each one may be different, resulting in different scores.

Another credit score myth people believe in is thinking their college degree has any pull with how their credit score is calculated. The most a college degree can help with credit scores is to provide people with a better chance of securing a good paying job. This, in turn, can help consumers make on-time payment with their financial obligations. But to think that a college degree will help with credit score computation is just plain myth.

The article also explains the myth of how a bad credit score can keep job-seekers from landing a job. There are some states which have made it illegal for potential employers to consider a person’s credit when he or she applies for a job, while others strictly limit the usage. However, there are some companies in other states that can look into it especially when the job position is financial in nature. The good thing about it is that many employers who do check credit will give job applicants a chance to explain why they have bad credit.

To read the full article: 

https://www.nationaldebtrelief.com/credit-score-myths/

Walmart, Sam’s Club and the Walmart Foundation Announce a Commitment of $100,000 for Midwest Flood Relief

BENTONVILLE, Ark.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–In response to the floods that have impacted Midwestern states including Iowa and Nebraska, Walmart, Sam’s Club and the Walmart Foundation have committed to provide $100,000 in support through cash and product donations. The commitment includes $50,000 in product donations to organizations providing support to impacted areas, and cash commitments of $50,000 to the Red Cross and United Way, which are providing relief services to affected communities. As part of this commitment, Walmart is also working closely with local officials and government entities to help meet the needs of those affected.

“The impact of these historic floods is affecting our associates, our customers and the communities we serve,” said Kyla Luckie, regional general manager for Walmart in Nebraska, Iowa and northeast Kansas. “In addition to cash donations, our local stores and distribution centers have been providing product to meet basic needs in the affected communities. We will also continue to work with non-profits, first responders, local officials and government organizations to identify needs and provide additional support.”

Walmart and Sam’s Club operate a total of 68 retail units, a distribution center and employ over 17,000 associates in Iowa. In Nebraska, the company has 47 retail units, a distribution center and more than 12,000 associates statewide.

Walmart has a long history of providing aid in times of disasters, helping communities prepare and recover by donating emergency supplies, such as food and water, home and personal products. In 2016, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation pledged $25 million in cash and in-kind donations to support disaster preparedness relief through 2020. Recognizing the unprecedented impact of disasters during 2017, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have given well beyond the initial pledge, providing more than $38 million in 2017 alone.

 

Disclaimer: Kevin Surbaugh is an independent sales representative of Youngevity (YGYI) and is a shareholder in the publicly traded company.
He also has positions in Coca-Cola (KO), Berkshire-Hathaway (BRK.B); (BRK.A), and WalMart (WMT), but has no positions in any other stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 96 hours.

— go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I’m always eager to hear what you think.

 

WhatTV, New Streaming Service Launching April 21

Since no single channel can serve the media interests of the entire world, WhatTV is launching multiple channels, each one serving the cultural needs of every region of the world. From their flagship studio in Boston, Mass. (Boston’s only Christian TV station), they are producing content for their North American, Latin American and Arabic channels. Content for their South Asian channel is produced from Birmingham, England, while content for their Russian, Persian, Hellenic and Turkish channels will be produced from their Cyprus studio by early 2020. To cover the rest of the world, two additional studios, are planned by the end of 2020; one in London for the UK, Europe, and African regions, and the other in Thailand for the East Asian region.

ABOUT THE TEAM

Dr. James Sideras – President
With 25-years business experience, James earned his doctorate at the University of Hertfordshire after growing his own award-winning UK business. James also travels the nations as a Christian evangelist.

Brandt Gillespie – Executive Director
With 30-years media experience, Brandt produced and hosted programs for “The 700 Club” and “100 Huntley Street,” Canada’s most widely viewed Christian daily talk show.

Rick Kay – Creative Director
With over 25-years media experience, Rick co-pioneered two of the largest Christian TV channels in Europe.

Danny Choranji – South Asia Director
Danny was with the BBC for 13-years as both presenter and producer. He won a national award for his Asian family program ‘Eastern Beat’ and his musical band, DCS, won double platinum.

 


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Business: GEICO Indy Has Several Hundred Openings That Pay over $16/Hour

INDIANAPOLIS –(BUSINESS WIRE)– GEICO’s office in Indianapolis has immediate openings for Claims Service Representatives, Liability Service Representatives, Customer Service Representatives, Sales Representatives, and Emergency Roadside Service Representatives; all the positions have a starting salary of at least $16.12 an hour. Training is provided and no prior insurance experience is necessary.

IT positions are also available at the Center of Excellence, an innovative tech hub GEICO opened last year at the Indy office.

Full-time associates are offered the wide-ranging Total Rewards Program, which includes a comprehensive benefits package, college tuition reimbursement, and health and wellness incentives. GEICO provides a friendly work environment that supports career growth and development.

GEICO opened its Indianapolis office in 2013 with 250 associates. Today, there are 1,500 associates. Last year, GEICO announced plans to expand the office and grow the associate population to more than 2,000.

“Our associates have been key to the success and growth we have seen in Indianapolis,” said Assistant Vice President Lona Montgomery. “We are pleased to welcome even more Hoosiers to join our GEICO family.”

GEICO, a member of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway family of companies, has been named a “Top Workplace” by the Indianapolis Star for several years; the Center of Excellence is a finalist for the 2019 TechPoint MIRA Awards Exceptional Employer Award.

Disclaimer: Kevin Surbaugh is an independent sales representative of Youngevity (YGYI) and is a shareholder in the publicly traded company.
He also has positions in Coca-Cola (KO), Berkshire-Hathaway (BRK.B); (BRK.A), and WalMart (WMT), but has no positions in any other stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 96 hours.

— go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I’m always eager to hear what you think.

 

Hawver: Medicaid Expansion, School Funding, Taxes and Budget

It took quite a while, but we’re finally getting to the part of the session where most of the boys would be advised to wear protective cups as debate sharpens over school funding, taxes, the budget…and Medicaid expansion.

Martin Hawver, Columnist
Martin Hawver

Things heated up last week when the Senate passed to the House what is the governor’s proposal to appropriate $92 million to the State Department of Education that the governor and (at least publicly) the Senate believes will meet the Kansas Supreme Court order to adequately finance K-12 schools.

The Statehouse grew hotter when the Senate bought some minor House amendments to its major corporate/individual income tax cut bill and sent it to the governor for a (bet on it) veto.

And the session flashed when both the House and Senate (the Senate more artfully) reached into their separate “Mega” bills–the major appropriation legislation of the session–to take the $14 million Gov. Laura Kelly proposed to expand Medicaid (we call it KanCare in Kansas) health care to more than 100,000 mostly poor Kansans.

That flashpoint on Medicaid expansion is probably the most insider politically interesting.  Kelly put in her budget that $14 million, the state’s first-year price tag of Medicaid expansion, that will create a system in which the state will pay 10 percent of health-care costs for poor Kansans and the federal government will pay 90 percent of those bills.

The Legislature passed Medicaid expansion in 2017, saw former Gov. Sam Brownback veto the bill, and was unable to override that veto. But the numbers were big, back then. The Senate mustered 25 votes for the measure, the House 81.  But 81 votes weren’t enough to override the veto.

This year, it appears that the Senate and House might have votes to expand Medicaid and don’t have to worry about a veto. Getting that expansion bill to the floor for debate is the problem.

So, with conservative leadership in both chambers opposed to Medicaid expansion…what happens to that $14 million that Kelly put in her budget…that $14 million that will draw more than $500 million in federal money for health care for Kansas’ poor?

The House Appropriations Committee just took that money that Kelly proposed for starting the program and tossed it back into the all-purpose State General Fund.  Nope, there’s no policy bill on the horizon that would expand Medicaid, but at least that $14 million would have allowed Kansas to operate the program if it found its way to the governor’s desk.

The Senate? It’s Ways and Means Committee was a little more politically clever. A majority of that panel doesn’t want Medicaid expansion but chose to take that $14 million the governor wants and keep it within the Department of Health and Environment…for a different purpose.

Now, Health and Environment isn’t exactly a cuddly agency, but the Senate committee took that $14 million and appropriated it for an increase in the fees it will pay physicians for care of the poor. Two years ago, the Legislature cut doctors’ KanCare payments by four percent. Restoring that four percent costs about $14 million.

So, the Senate can say it favors health care for the poor, just not a whole lot more of them, as some doctors are now refusing to care for Medicaid clients because of low reimbursement. The Senate panel is voting to pay doctors more to keep them in the Medicaid system, which sounds relatively socially progressive, doesn’t it?

Of course, none of that $14 million juggling matters if Medicaid isn’t expanded. And that’s one reason to watch the budget bill—which can’t be amended to include Medicaid expansion–to see whether that $14 million sliver pops the budget…

 

By Martin Hawver

Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report—to learn more about this nonpartisan statewide political news service, visit the website at www.hawvernews.com