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Fri May 25, 2012
Top Stories Of The Week
New Missouri Congressional districts survived a court challenge. Gov. Brownback signed off on a huge Kansas tax cut. Those and other top stories of the week on the KCUR Saturday News Review.
Big Tax Cut Coming for Kansas
Governor Sam Brownback promptly signed a Kansas bill that will cut personal income taxes and eliminate them altogether for nearly 200,000 businesses. The governor said the change would create tens of thousands of jobs and make the state an excellent home for small businesses.
Moderate Republicans like Senate President Steve Morris said they felt betrayed – manipulated into actions resulting in fiscal irresponsibility.
Democrats like Lawrence's Paul Davis predicted state deficits in the billions in just a few years with cuts to education and social services.
But conservative Republicans like Johnson County Representative Marvin Kleeb said those forecasts didn't take into account the economic growth the state will get from cutting income taxes.
The Kansas Economic Council estimates that to come out ahead the tax cut would have to produce more than 25 times the jobs the revenue department predicts it will create.
Kansas Legislative Session Ends, Redistricting Left to Courts
The Legislature wrapped up its session, passing a budget bill that does increase funding for K-12 education, but without completing any of its redistricting chores – leaving that to the courts. At week's end, a three-judge panel had allowed 25 Kansas officials to join a lawsuit filed by an Olathe committee woman asking the court to produce redistricting maps. Governor Brownback did not seek to join the suit.
Missouri Redistricting Finally Finalized
The Missouri Supreme Court upheld that state's Congressional redistricting maps, though the decision was not unanimous. One dissenter, Judge Ray Price went so far as to say there was evidence of gerrymandering in Eastern Jackson County.
Mayor's Infrastructure Plan Set For Ballot
A double ballot issue to help with street repairs, parks and a federally-mandated sewer update sailed through the city council. It would eliminate several existing taxes, and add 1/2-cent to the sales tax. Mayor Sly James said it is not as some fear too complicated to win voter approval. Several council members said it is the first time in memory that the city has taken action to create a dedicated funding source for street repairs. The plan would devote 7.5% of earnings tax collections to that purpose.
The companion issue is approval for $500 million in bonds to finance the sewer improvements. The sewer project, ordered by the EPA, is expected to be a 25-year endeavor costing $2.5 billion.
Prowlers Beware: Ordinance Tightened
The council also updated Kansas City's anti-prowler ordinance to make it more effective in addressing the problem of would-be robbers casing homes and businesses. Actually the impropriety of peeping in windows is subsumed under the city's disorderly conduct ordinance. But the existing ordinance had restricted the definition to night-time peering into occupied dwellings. The new ordinance covers all hours of the day and night for any habitable structure.
Small Number To Decide On Streetcar Zone
The votes were not in yet in a mail-in ballot on creation of a downtown streetcar zone, but the city clerk reports that only about 600 out of 5400 eligible voters asked for ballots before the deadline.
President Addresses Joplin Graduating Class
President Obama was in Joplin to speak at the Joplin High School graduation.ceremony on the eve of the one-year anniversary of that city's EF-5 tornado. Joplin told the seniors some may leave Joplin, but Joplin “will never leave them,” adding that the tragic events and the community's dramatic efforts to recover from it had made them all “family.” The aftermath of the tornado is far from over. Now there are concerns about scattered dust from lead-contaminated gravel left over from Joplin's long ago lead mining days.
AMC Theater Chain Bought By Chinese Firm
Chinese Company named Wanda bought Kansas City-based AMC entertainment, creating the largest movie theater company in the world. AMC also made the news for parting company with Cordish Company regarding its Main Street Theater in the Power and Light District.
Some Relief From License Office Logjam
The pace picked up and lines shortened a bit at Johnson County motor vehicle licensing offices, where a new computer system has caused long waits and multiple visits for three weeks. The latest problems were caused by a system bug that resulted in crashes. Extensions have been granted on renewal deadlines and people are being asked to take care of vehicle registration on line.