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Top Morning News 3.19.13

Kansas House members will debate a $14 billion dollar budget; Kansas House is considering anti-abortion bill; Sequestration affecting tuition benefits for military service.

Kansas House To Debate $14B State Budget

Kansas House members are preparing to debate a $14 billion state budget for the next fiscal year.

The measure on Tuesday's calendar allocates nearly $6 billion in state general fund revenues. The budget covers spending for public schools and higher education, social services, and public safety.

The House Appropriations Committee budget made about $25 million in cuts from the budget proposed by Gov. Sam Brownback. It would leave the state with ending balances of more than $565 million in reserve on by July 1 of 2014, and about $485 million in reserve the next year.

The Senate is planning to debate its own version of the budget Wednesday.

Kansas House Considering Big Anti-Abortion Bill

The House will also debate legislation Tuesday that blocks tax breaks for abortion providers. The bill also bars public schools from using sex education instruction from groups that provide abortion services.


Sequestration Results In Suspension Of Military Tuition

Automatic federal spending cuts that took effect this month are hurting some U.S. military service members taking college courses.

The Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps have suspended tuition assistance programs for active-duty, reserve or National Guard service members because of the sequester on March 1.

A University of Kansas spokesman says students who enrolled in spring classes won't lose the funding they already were awarded. It's unclear whether future students will be able to apply for tuition assistance, which can be as much as $4,500 per year.

Two U.S. senators are pushing this week for an amendment to restore the tuition assistance programs.

House Tax Plan Could Delay Highway Projects

Kansas Transportation Secretary Mike King says a key part of a legislative proposal to lower sales and income taxes will force the state to delay highway projects.

King says a provision of a tax bill before the Kansas House diverts $382 million dollars in revenues over two years from highway projects. The House bill would follow up on last year's income tax cuts by allowing further reductions in rates if state revenues grow by more than 2 percent.

It also would allow the state sales tax to drop in July, as scheduled by law. Gov. Sam Brownback wants to cancel the sales tax reduction to stabilize the budget.

When she's not out making lattes in her mobile coffee bus Sunflower Espresso, Kate Hutchens is a fill-in host for KMUW. She has worked in broadcast journalism at KFDI, Oregon Public Broadcasting, and at KMUW as Morning Edition host, which she did until March 2017.