On Tuesday, August 22nd an Action Alert went out to over 14,000 people asking people to take 30 seconds to fill out a form to ask their legislators to cosponsor the Disability Integration Act.

Of all the people from KS, 4 responded to this alert and of those who responded, 2 were from your District KS-02. That means your Senators received 4 messages urging them to cosponsor the Disability Integration Act and your Representative received 2 messages.

If you haven’t already done the alert, just take 30 seconds to click this link and fill in the boxes! Once you hit submit, the messages will be sent to your legislators urging them to cosponsor the Disability Integration Act! Click here: http://goo.gl/c4hMsH

If you did complete the action alert, you can still help! Put the link or your social media or email it to 5 friends! We need more people to urge their legislators to cosponsor this important bill! We know this bill is important to you, so please tell your friends and family about the Disability Integration Act and ask them to reach out to their legislators by completing this action alert!

Living in the community is a human and civil right that disabled people have been denied for too long! Together we can end the forcible institutionalization of people with disabilities!

http://goo.gl/c4hMsH

The Governor’s proposed budget has been released. We will write more about it as we have time to review it. Click here to download the full text as a PDF.

 

Last night Governor Sam Brownback delivered his 2012 State of the State address. It was a rather brief speech but stuffed with huge plans to move our state further down his Road Map for Kansas.

 

As expected, a great deal of emphasis was placed on drastic changes to the Kansas tax code. He would see the individual income tax brackets reduced to 2 from 3 and the top tax rate would be 4.9% instead of the current 6.45% while the bottom rate would drop to 3% from the current 3.5% bottom tier rate.

Along with the income tax cuts he added in some very tough cuts to tax breaks including itemized deductions and the very contentious elimination of the earned income credit and child and dependent care breaks that are hugely beneficial to the State’s lowest earners.

In fact, in the last Legislative session advocates for Kansas families were fighting a bill that would phase out the earned income credit. At that time it was estimated that 6,500 Kansas families would be pushed below the poverty guideline if the earned income credit was ended.

Like a cherry on the top of his tax overhaul, the Governor would like to see the Legislature  limit further growth in government expenditures to no more than 2% a year with any additional revenue used to lower the State income tax.

The danger in a system like this is that most programs and services in Kansas are currently running at greatly decreased budgets, if this is adopted, funding levels for these would essentially be frozen at levels that are not sustainable. In addition, limiting all government expenditures to no more than 2% would further hobble systems like education, Medicaid, social services, and KPERS all three of which require more funding each year than 2% would allow.

There was not much said regarding the Medicaid makeover; much of the details of that plan are awaiting the responses to the RFP as the state has left the determination of many elements of the plan to the Managed Care organizations they are going to be contracting with. Governor Brownback did stress that Kansans with disabilities would be given a better chance at finding meaningful employment and a bridge away from Medicaid. We have heard that an announcement regarding several employment initiative is coming in a few weeks.

All in all, the State of the State was pretty much what was expected, the Governor’s budget is slated to be released this morning and once we have more information on that we will make it available to you. You can read or download a copy of the 2012 State of the State address on the Governor’s website.

 

Today at 2:00pm the Kansas House and Senate will convene to start the 2012 Legislative Session. This promises to be one of the busiest, and maybe toughest sessions in recent years.

All eyes are on the Senate as it is an election year for them and the coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats that stood together the last 2 years to stave off very damaging legislation will certainly be under fire.The House is most decidedly in Governor Brownback’s pocket and have the will and power to push through his ultra-conservative agenda.

The items that will be of particular note to the disability community are big ones this year:

  • Medicad Reform ushering in Managed Care
  • The Executive Reorganization Order that will combine aging and disability services and all of Medicaid under the new Department of Aging and Disability Services
  • An expected push to significantly lower or even end the income tax
  • Employment initiatives aimed towards Kansans with disabilities that have yet to be revealed
  • Funding Centers for Independent Living and Consumer Run Organizations as well as the usual budgetary items

We are very busy working to introduce an advocacy plan for this session that will utilize the strengths and voices of the consumers we serve to their fullest potential. Check back for regular updates from the Statehouse and contact your local RCIL office to find out how to become involved.

“Nothing about us without us!”

 

 

With the new year comes a new Legislative session in Kansas. The 2012 Session starts on Monday January 9th at 2:00pm and promises to be a busy one.

The disability community will be closely watching as the Administration and the Legislature take on huge items including an expected Executive Order re-organizing SRS, the Medicaid overhaul into a managed care system, an anticipated move to do away with income tax, Education finance reform, and KPERS reform.

The Resource Center for Independent Living will be working to make sure our consumers and community partners stay updated on the goings on within the Statehouse. We’ll utilize this blog, our Twitter and Facebook pages, as well as our existing NetPals email service.

Something new that we plan on introducing this session are video updates from the Statehouse from our advocates on the front lines, our consumers giving testimony, and others. These will be posted to our YouTube stream as well as on our blog and other social media outlets.

2012 will be a year of big changes for the disability community in Kansas and for the State as a whole. Join us in getting our updates and information out to our friends, families, Legislators, and community partners.

Let us know if you would like to share your story with your Legislators or the media. We are looking for individuals who utilize services or who are on waiting lists for services, people who are working or who are struggling to find employment. Contact us today and share your voice.

FMAP Extension Passed!

Categorized: Legislative Updates

The  FMAP Extension passed the House and will be signed into law by President Obama! While we did not get the full amount passed that was in the original bill, it is still a victory! The bill that passed maintains the 3.2 % increase in Medicaid funding in the first quarter of 2011 and lowers that to a 1.2 % increase in the second quarter.

Thank you all for your very important advocacy efforts. We are so lucky to have such a great team at RCIL of staff, consumers, and community partners. As we gear up for the campaign season I’m proud to know that you all can be counted on in the continued fight.