Statehouse briefing — Speaker: Raise college town property taxes to pay for university repairs
Here are today's headlines from Kansas government:
(AP) Lawmakers float alternatives to Sebelius plan on repairs: Alternatives to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' plan to use Kansas Turnpike tolls to pay for repairs at state universities already are floating among legislators, including a proposal to require college towns to impose special property tax levies."There's always an alternative here to any issue, and so there's several that are in play," said House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls.Neufeld and other Republicans note that community colleges receive support from property taxes levied in their home counties. Some question whether it's fair for their communities to pay such levies when Kansans living near state universities don't. Nor would using local property tax revenues to help finance universities be unprecedented. Both Wichita State University and Washburn University in Topeka receive such dollars, a legacy of their days as municipal institutions. "Maybe there needs to be a local mill levy where the regents universities are, to help defray those costs," Neufeld said. "That's one thing I think that's on the table."
(KTKA) Some crumbling classrooms didn't exist: The University of Kansas' original deferred maintenance list included a $500,000 for the chancellor's residence, and more than $300,000 for the multi-cultural resource building - a building that doesn't even exist anymore. Kansas State University wanted more than $3 million for repairs to the Ahearn Field House and $266,000 for the president's residence. When the state balked at the cost of the requested repairs, the Kansas Board of Regents told the universities to tone it down.
(KTKA) Wounded vet denounces troop escalation: Thursday, members of a Senate panel heard from Thomas Young, a man who's life was forever changed when he was serving his country in Iraq. The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee discussed a resolution that would state their opposition to the President's plan to send more U.S. troops to Iraq.
(LJW) Concerns raised about KU Med affiliation: Key legislators Thursday sought to put the brakes on the proposed affiliation between Kansas University Medical Center, KU Hospital and Missouri-based St. Luke's Hospital.
(LJW) Ban sought on domestic registry: The city of Lawrence would be prohibited from starting a domestic partnership registry under legislation filed by a state lawmaker.
(LJW) Funeral pickets measure revived: Kansas legislators again are trying to find a way to ban picketing at funerals of U.S. troops killed in combat, in response to protests in recent years throughout the nation by the Rev. Fred Phelps and his followers.
(Topeka Capital-Journal) Intimidation alleged in election review: A House committee's second meeting Thursday to resolve a contested election ended with an attorney for the victorious Democrat accusing the opposition of strong-arming a voter.
(Harris News Service) Tax breaks for nukes OK'd: A bill to exempt property taxes on a Wolf Creek II nuclear power plant that could be built in the future in Coffey County gained strong support in an initial House vote Thursday.
(Harris News Service) Program aimed at retiring water rights: A bill to launch a new program to pay irrigators willing to retire water rights along the upper Arkansas river drew the tentative backing of farmer and rancher groups testifying to a Senate committee Thursday.