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Phillips Files: Poll & Welcome to the 2014 Session From: Rep. Tom Phillips (tphillips3@cox.net) Sent: 2014-01-17 14:42:59
Legislative Update from Rep. Tom Phillips
For more information view my website: www.TomPhillips.org

Dear Manhattan & Riley County constituents:

For my fellow Empty Nesters, you know it’s a rare opportunity to have everyone in the same place at the same time. A small Pacific coast town in Costa Rica has been our family vacation destination over the last two years. Especially as the boys get older, we appreciate them humoring us and continuing this tradition.

              CR family             Deb Tom

Off-Session Update

On Monday, we began the 2014 legislative session and many of you have ­asked what I anticipate for the coming months. Certainly we will see a number of “hold-over” issues from the summer and fall, and I hope we will reconsider some of my concerns from the last session:

  1. Higher Education funding cuts: Unreasonable budget cuts to K-State and MATC have put our community at risk. Many in the legislature are interested in reversing those cuts and preventing the community and technical colleges’ planned 1.5% cut in the upcoming fiscal year.  When I visited with Governor Brownback this past summer, he gave me every indication he wanted to restore the 2013 session salary and position freeze imposed on higher education;
  2. K-12 funding and legal issues: We expect a decision in the Gannon case in the coming weeks, which will determine whether the state is underfunding schools, as interpreted under the requirements of the Kansas Constitution;
  3. Last year’s changes to the appointment process for the Kansas Court of Appeals could be expanded to cover Kansas Supreme Court Justices as well, likely hinging on the outcome of #2;
  4. The state carried over $600 million in its bank account at the end of the last fiscal year.  I believe this puts us in a position to restore some of the cuts approved last year, but the final ruling of the Supreme Court on school funding could easily force the state to spend $450 million. We have a lot of work to do.
Hot Topics - Federal Health Care Reform

You have likely heard the national debate rippling down to the states about Medicaid expansion. I’m curious what you think (Keep reading then CLICK HERE to take the poll). Here’s a brief overview of the issue and a few resource links below for more information.

  • The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was built on the assumption the states would expand Medicaid to a greater number of lower income households (who previously made too much money to qualify for Medicaid). In turn, hospitals would see a significant drop in uninsured patients showing up in the emergency room for medical care. In states which do not expand Medicaid, an “eligibility gap”­ will form between the very poor on Medicaid and those earning too much to qualify for Medicaid yet too poor to receive federal subsidies for health care insurance through the exchanges. A Kansas Hospital Association report estimated Medicaid expansion in Kansas could create more than 4,000 jobs over the next 7 years. To launch the program, the federal government pays 100% of the cost of the expansion for the first three years, and 90% of the program costs until 2016, with the states paying the remaining 10%. Many legislators are concerned the federal government will not keep this funding promise, and are hesitant to shoulder this potential expense. Experience has shown repeatedly, once a government program is started or expanded it becomes very difficult for elected officials to tell constituents they are going to eliminate or reduce the funding or minimize the scope and mission of the program. 
  • Wichita Eagle Editorial: http://www.kansas.com/2014/01/02/3205218/eagle-editorial-hope-for-medicaid.html
  • Associated Press: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/12/29/3492090/gop-opposition-hasnt-quieted-kan.html
  • Kansas Health Institute: http://www.khi.org/news/2013/dec/06/study-states-not-expanding-medicaid-forfeit-billio/
Opportunities & Activities

Please take this opportunity to share any thoughts you have on state issues. If you have ideas to help your neighbors, businesses, or make state government more efficient, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

One way you can help and give your students an opportunity to “see sausage being made” is by volunteering them to be a Legislative Page.

If your student (12 and over) is available to spend the day with me in Topeka on February 11 or March 20, please let me know ASAP. Learn more here.

Finally, there are a few upcoming events to share:

  • I will be attending the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership Retreat in conjunction with the Wamego and Junction City Chambers of Commerce in Overland Park this weekend. Our agenda is packed with presentations on economic development and its various roles in transportation, regional planning, branding and a host of related topics.
  • On January 19, I encourage you to join me for the Martin Luther King celebration and events at the Manhattan Town Center mall starting at 10:00 am.
  • Jan. 25th, I will be attending the reunion of WWII Battle of the Bulge veterans’ ceremony at the Manhattan American Legion. I attended last year and I highly encourage you to join the event. Listening to the stories of these men and women is guaranteed to bring tears, admiration, and unbelievable pride in the spirit of the American people.

It is an honor to serve you in Topeka. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of service to you.

Rep. Tom Phillips

In Topeka:
State Capitol, Room 512-A
At home in Manhattan:

Tom Phillips serves the 67th District, which includes Manhattan and part of Riley County. He has lived in the district for more than 20 years.
Map of the 67th District
City of Manhattan
Riley County
USD 383 Schools
Kansas State University
Manhattan Area Technical College
Kansas Legislature
Kansas Secretary of State
Kansas Governor

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Paid for by Tom Phillips for State Representative, Richard Hayter, Treasurer
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