Stephen Koranda

Statehouse Reporter

Stephen Koranda reports on the Kansas Legislature, state government and everything else for Kansas Public Radio. He previously worked in Mississippi and Iowa, where he covered stories ranging from hurricanes to state executions. 

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A task force appointed by the governor has wrapped up a series of meetings looking for ways to reduce childhood poverty in Kansas. They discussed three so-called "pathways out of poverty," which include ways to improve education, get more Kansans working and strengthen families.

The committee was told that in 2011 around 19 percent of Kansas kids lived in poverty, and they’re hoping that focusing on some key areas can reduce that.

Gov. Sam Brownback is leading a trade delegation to the Paris Air Show this week.

Teachers and school district superintendents lined up before the Kansas Board of Education Tuesday to support Common Core education standards.

They argued the standards will help students transfer more easily between schools and create students who are better at critical thinking and problem solving.

Sarah Berblinger is a teacher in the Buhler School District. She said the standards also help build a strong foundation for education.

Legislators passed a budget with more than $60 million in cuts over two years for the state's universities last week.  Gov. Sam Brownback told reporters on Friday that his office had received the budget, and they were going through it line by line.

He may have been focusing on the lines where universities faces across-the board cuts, and cuts to funding for salaries, which Gov. Brownback said, "I'm  not pleased with. I thought it should have been stable funding. So we're going to be looking at what all options are."

Members of the Kansas Board of Regents Thursday criticized the cuts to higher education in a budget passed by the state Legislature.

The chair of the Kansas House Tax Committee is responding to some Democrats' claims about the tax plan passed by the Legislature last weekend.

The Kansas Legislature narrowly passed a two-year state budget over the weekend and wrapped up the 2013 legislative session. 

The single biggest responsibility lawmakers have every year is to pass a state budget. It was questionable whether this proposal could pass the House. The chamber’s leadership was putting pressure on Republicans to pass the budget, saying if they didn’t pass one over the weekend the state could miss payments, like a payment for state worker health insurance.

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management is urging Kansans who want to help the recovery in Oklahoma to make cash donations.

The Kansas Department for Children and Families has announced a new initiative to cut down on and detect illegal use of state welfare benefits. 

DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore says her department has hired additional staff to root-out fraud.

“We now have a director, full-time, devoted to anti-fraud efforts," she said. "There’s a chief investigator, two hotline administrative assistants and 16 fraud special investigators across the state.”

It was an unusual day at the Kansas Statehouse Thursday, as Republicans from the House and Senate gathered to smooth out differences between the two chambers on tax and budget issues. Some lawmakers said it had been at least seven years since Republicans from the two chambers met as a group to discuss policy.

“It’s fun as we go out to our dinners and take potshots at each other almost as if we’re competitors," said Ty Masterson, a Republican from Andover who heads the Kansas Senate budget committee. "But in reality, we’re all part of the same team, we are the legislative branch.”

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