Vicki Schmidt-State Senator-Kansas: News from our district: March 5, 2016

 

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On your watch…An open letter to State Senator Schmidt, Kansas

Dear Friends,

This was a very, very short week for the legislature. The first part of the session was wrapped up on February 23rd. We then took off until March 2nd to allow the staff time to process all of the bills that were debated and passed. My committees did not meet until March 3rd. We did not debate any bills on the Senate floor this week. Then on March 4th the leadership decided we would take yet another pro forma day. Since the legislature began we have only worked on one Friday.

The February revenue numbers were released and were $53 million less than estimated, leaving the state down about $80 million for the current fiscal year that ends 6-30-2016. In response to this news, the Governor ordered a 3% ($17 million) cut to the state’s Regents institutions. This includes the following:

  • University of Kansas
  • University of Kansas Medical Center
  • Kansas State University
  • Kansas State University Vet Med
  • Kansas State University ESARP (Research and Extension – they are the only one on the list that does NOT collect tuition)
  • Emporia State University
  • Ft. Hays State University
  • Pittsburg State University
  • Wichita State University

The budget bill passed by the legislature (I did not vote for) allows enhanced authority to the Governor and forces him to make further cuts to the budget in order to close out the remaining four months of the fiscal year with a balanced budget and an ending balance of at least $100 million in the general fund.

Obviously this is not good news. The revenue estimators will meet again in April to estimate the next 18 months. They will meet after the April 15th tax deadline.

NEWS FROM OUR DISTRICT

PAGES

Thank you to Sonya Doubledee, Arushi Garg, Donna Jalosjos, Myles Spader and Sheridan Wichman for paging this week. The pages have a full day of being sworn in as pages, a tour of the Capitol, and the ceremonial picture with the Governor. These students are from Auburn Elementary and Indian Hills Elementary School. They learned about state government by seeing the process!

Sonya Doubledee, Sen. Schmidt, Gov. Brownback and Myles Spader (Auburn Elementary School)

Donna Jalosjos, Sen. Schmidt, Gov. Brownback, Arushi Garg and Sheriden Wichman (Indian Hills Elementary School)

LEADERSHIP TOPEKA CLASS OF 2016

The class had an all day session on government, from city, county and state officials! Thirty-six outstanding individuals from Topeka and Shawnee County are part of this program sponsored by the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce. The program was started in 1984 and identifies outstanding potential leaders from various components of the community. There are more than 900 alumni of the program. I was a proud member of the Class of 1991! Sen. Laura Kelly, Rep. Fred Patton and myself addressed the class on Friday afternoon in the Old Supreme Courtroom at the Capitol. Thank you for all of your great questions! Thanks also to Kim Gronniger, Vice President of Marketing, for organizing and supporting the class. Please visit the Leadership Topeka website if you would like more information and to view the current class roster!

TOPEKA WEST GOVERNMENT CLASS

MS. CONNIE JACOBSON

A huge salute to Ms. Connie Jacobson, the Government teacher at Topeka West High School! Each year, both fall and spring semesters, she is able to bring the senior students at Topeka West High School to the Supreme Court and Capitol for a tour. This year they saw oral arguments at the Supreme Court. It takes quite the effort and coordination to accomplish this. What lucky students to have a teacher like Ms. Jacobson!

MARCH OF DIMES LEGISLATIVE DAY

What a day for the March of Dimes! They visited several legislators and advocated to improve the health of women of childbearing age, infants, and children by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Here are some of the statistics they shared with me:

Annually in Kansas:

  • 39,223 babies are born
  • 3,423 babies are born preterm
  • 1,190 babies are born with a birth defect
  • Prematurity and birth defects are leading causes of infant mortality
  • 252 babies die before reaching their first birthday
  • The societal cost of premature birth is $177 million
  • 25% of infant deaths have mothers who smoked during pregnancy
  • 130 babies have a condition detected through newborn screening

Thank you for all that you do for Kansans!

Heather Aylward (RN, MSN, Director of Women’s Life Center – Newman Regional Health), Shalae Harris Program Coordinator, March of Dimes), Sen. Schmidt and Christy Schunn (Executive Director, Kansas InfantDeath and SIDS Network)

KANSAS ENRICHMENT NETWORK

What a nice visit I had with Tracy Keegan this week! Ms. Keegan runs the afterschool program at Landon Middle School. Her enthusiasm is contagious and inspiring! She brought information on the Kansas Enrichment Network and afterschool programs. Evidence suggests that afterschool programs have substantial Academic, Behaviorial and Career benefits! Afterschhol programming is known to result in higher graduation rates, improved test scores, and decreased grade retention. Afterschool participants are less likely to be involved in risky behavior and juvenile crime, and are encouraged to lead healthy lifestyles through nutritious snacks and physical activity. High-quality afterschool programs in Kansas (like Ms. Keegan’s) offer STEM enrichment activities designed to prepare students for tomorrow’s most in-demand careers! Thank you for your influence in so many young lives!

PARENTS AS TEACHERS

Thank you to all the Parents, Children and Educators that participated in Parents as Teachers (PAT). Their advocacy day filled the Capitol with many children and made the rotunda full of life! Parents As Teachers is a program that provides services which include personal visits with a parent educator, weekly playgroups, screenings and resource networks. They emphasize the idea that parents are a child’s first and most influential teachers. The program is free and voluntary! It is available to parents of children ages newborn to three years.

CAUCUS, CAUCUS, CAUCUS

The caucus for Republicans in Shawnee County was held at the Ramada Inn downtown. The turnout was spectacular! Thank you to all who participated and especially those who helped organize the event! Janet Mitchell, the Shawnee County Republican Chairwoman did a great job!

Sen. Schmidt Voting at the GOP Caucus

Janet Mitchell, Shawnee CO GOP Chairwoman and Sen. Schmidt at the Caucus

The line of people waiting to enter and vote at the GOP Caucus

Then I drove to Wabaunsee County to visit the GOP Caucus in Alma, Kansas. Again, a great job by Irma Lightner-Reimer in organizing the voters and making the process smooth for the record breaking crowd!

Sen. Schmidt and Irma Lightner-Reimer at the Wabaunsee County GOP Caucus

SENATE FLOOR

The Senate did not debate any bills this week.

On Thursday I requested a “Point of Personal Privilege” to recognize the 75th birthday of M&M’S Brand Chocolate Candies and recognize Mars, Incorporated whose dedicated service has enabled them to significantly contribute to the economic vitality of Kansas. March 3, 2016 was proclaimed as M&M’S Brand Chocolate Candies Day!

Mars, Incorporated in Kansas has made over $350 million in total investments and has over 350 Mars Associates statewide. The Topeka Mars Chocolate Factory was established in 2014 and was the first Mars Chocolate site constructed in 35 years! There are over 200 full time associates at this location alone. At this wonderful facility they make M&M’s candies and SNICKERS bars. They are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certified with a 2MW on-site solar field in construction. They recently have invested $100 million to expand the facility to meet increased demand and secure the site for future growth opportunities. Thank you for ALL that you do in the Topeka community! And thank you for building your facility in Kansas, and especially in Topeka!

Paid for by Vicki Schmidt for Senate, Brad Koehn, CPA, Treasurer

About arnierosner

As an American I advocate a republic form of government, self-reliance, and adherence to the basic philosophy of the founding fathers and the founding documents, I ONLY respect those who respect and "HONOR" their honor. No exceptions!
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