Kansas Update

Way back in July I posted about how Kansas hired Koch-bros. affiliated attorneys to defend itself in cases regarding its attacks on clinics and its de-funding of Planned Parenthood. At the time I noted:
Huh. I had no idea the state of Kansas had so much money laying around! Planned Parenthood, by the way, is being represented by pro-bono attorneys.
Yesterday the Kansas City Star reported on just how much money the state has paid (so far!):
After about six months, the state has tallied $392,520 in legal bills stemming from attempts to restrict abortion that were pushed during the legislative session earlier this year.

The state spent $237,834 on private lawyers defending efforts to strip Planned Parenthood of federal family planning funds. It has laid out $94,380 defending new rules for abortion clinics.

And it has amassed $60,306 in legal bills over a new law that bars insurance companies from providing elective abortion coverage as part of their comprehensive plans.


Two firms are handling the lawsuits for the state.

Foulston Siefkin is representing the state in the Planned Parenthood case. The firm charges up to $300 an hour for litigation work and $115 an hour for paralegal services.

The law firm of former University of Kansas Law School Dean Steve McAllister — Thompson, Ramsdell & Qualseth — is representing the state in lawsuits challenging the new abortion clinic rules and the insurance restrictions.

McAllister’s firm charges up to $275 for litigation and $75 an hour for paralegal work.
The state's Attorney General, Derek Schmidt, said they had to hire people since his office is overburdened.

So, earlier this year, while the state passed bullshit legislation that was guraranteed to be challenged in court, the state was also working on a budget. Here's a bit how that went:
Friday’s cuts include:

--A $50.2 million reduction in general state aid to education, which will require legislative action in order to coordinate that change with expected increases in health and human services caseloads.

--$2.3 million reductions each in Board of Regents system operating budgets and Social and Rehabilitation Services mental health care managed services.

--A $1.3 million reduction in State Finance Council funds dedicated to assuring Kansas government salaries are competitive with the private sector.

--A total $374,000 in reduced debt service costs and lowered operating budgets for the Kansas Court of Tax Appeals, the Kansas Attorney General’s office, the Kansas Art Commission and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
Republican leaders asserted that tax increases will be necessary in the budget, but the House budget did not include a tax increase.[35] Instead, the House budget lessened funds for public education by not replacing $172 million in federal stimulus dollars.
So how is that working out? Pretty much how you might think:
Quietly, without fanfare, the 39-year-old emergency center for Johnson County youth in crisis at TLC closed in September.

In December, the 17-year-old old transitional program for disturbed Johnson County kids from teens up to 18 at TLC will also close.

The elimination of both programs is a result of statewide budget cuts.


In the meantime, Marillac, the other facility in the county that deals with youth in need of acute care, is facing severe cutbacks in its own programs. It, too, is trying to deal with major budget cuts.

Both TLC and Marillac exist for youth with severe psychiatric needs who have been referred to them by the Johnson County Mental Health Center.
Topeka — State budget cuts to public schools have resulted in fewer teachers and more crowded classrooms, according to statistics reported Friday by the Kansas Department of Education.

The total number of teacher positions statewide in the current school year is 34,075.

That is a drop of 256 from last year and 1,363 since the 2008-09 school year total of 35,438.

Meanwhile, student enrollment has increased from 473,097 in 2008-09 to 482,798 in the current school year. That is an increase of 9,701 students. During that time, the Lawrence school district grew from 11,007 students to 11,613 students, an increase of 606 students.

The elimination of teacher positions coincides with cuts to school funding.
But, hey, Kansas has plenty of money (nearly $400K for six months of work!) to spend hiring attorneys to defend anti-abortion legislation. Obviously that money couldn't be useful anywhere else in the state. Priorities!

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