Kansas State Representative Troy Waymaster (R-Russell) was on hand to share issues from the Legislature during the Dwight D. Eisenhower Excellence in Public Speaking Series on Saturday at the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce’s Holt Spray Conference Room.
Waymaster, who serves as the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, discussed the State Emergency Declaration extension in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, Gov. Laura Kelly issued a state-wide emergency declaration authorizing the use of state resources and personnel to assist with response and recovery operations in affected counties that meet certain criteria. In September, the state extended the emergency declaration which allows Gov. Kelly to continue to maintain a statewide response to the pandemic.
Waymaster told Saturday’s gathering that in the past two days he has received about 150 emails from citizens across the state expressing concern over the extension.
“There is a difference between an emergency declaration and an executive order by the governor,” said Waymaster. He added that the emergency declaration allows federal dollars to come into the state. “If we did not issue this declaration then the Federal Government could opt out of providing any additional emergency funding to the State of Kansas.”
Waymaster said that the bulk of concerns stems not from the declaration itself but the governor’s executive power over operation of businesses. “This is something that she has another purview of the legislation we passed in June,” he said referring to HB 2016 which enacted governmental response to the pandemic in Kansas.
On other matters, Waymaster discussed items related to state budget allocations. “Right now we have two different areas we look at for funding the State of Kansas,” said Waymaster. “One is from the general fund which is all the tax money received by the state.” He said that currently the general fund has about $8 billion. “Then there is the all funds category which includes the general funds but also all fee funds and federal dollars that come into the state.” Waymaster added that the two categories combined has the state sitting with $19.9 billion in its coffers.
So where does the money go?
Looking first at the general fund, Waymaster said that 64% is dedicated to education. “That’s K-12 and higher ed,” said Waymaster. “That includes all six regents schools, community colleges and tech schools.”
The next category is human services, which Waymaster said accounts for about 28% and entails foster care and Medicaid.
Five percent is dedicated to general government function according to Waymaster. “That involves state employees and agencies,” he said.
Waymaster said natural resources only accounts for 0.2%. “There’s not a lot of money dedicated to agriculture, which is ironic because agriculture is the number one economic driver for the State of Kansas,” he said. Waymaster added that most agricultural funds come from federal dollars.
Waymaster also said that funds in education and human services could not be touched. “We’ve been in a lawsuit with education for several years,” said Waymaster. “After going through the education case loads, between fiscal years 2020 and 2021, there is an increase of $173 million that will be going into K-12 education.” He said that the money was being allocated to satisfy Supreme Court litigation for K-12 education. “That amount will increase,” Waymaster said. “Because when that legislation was passed, it was a staggered increase of five years so that percentage will change in the outgoing years. If we attempt to dig into the funding, there’s always the possibility of a lawsuit,” he said.
Waymaster said Medicaid services are split, 60/40 percent between federal and state funding respectively. “Medicaid expansion has been a hot topic for many years,” said Waymaster. “We just don’t know what the price tag is.” He added that the uncertain cost stems from house debate about costs and figures quoted by the Governor’s office.
The Dwight D. Eisenhower Excellence in Public Service Series is part of the National Excellence in Public Service Series, a group of 20 state organizations with the following common goals:
• To provide a first-class leadership training experience on a scholarship basis for outstanding women.
• To encourage, mentor and prepare selected women leaders to seek new levels of involvement in government and politics.
• To provide participants access to political and government leaders responsible for candidate recruitment and/or appointments.
• To establish an active core of highly qualified women who are educated and motivated to assume key roles in public service.
• To form an effective and diverse statewide political network for women.