What to expect from the statehouse in 2019

Posted: Updated:

In seven days Kansas will have a new governor.  That's not the only change at the statehouse coming next week.  

While Governor-elect Laura Kelly is more liberal than Governor Jeff Colyer, political analysts tell KAKE News she'll have a lot of the same priorities such as the state's budget.  But, there are some areas that could change, impacting you directly, from schools to Medicaid and fixing DCF.

"I think school funding and Medicaid expansion will be the big ticket items," said Dr. Neal Allen, Wichita State University political scientist.

Medicaid expansion is a big one.  Supporters say that expanding the state and federally funded health insurance program would allow another 150,000 Kansans, mostly the working poor, to access quality, consistent health care.  Opponents say it'll cost the state too much, despite bringing in additional funds from the federal government.

Analysts like Dr. Allen say conservatives are already gearing up for that fight.

"I think conservatives will probably take their shot at seeing if they have enough votes to block it," he said.

He says expect some fighting, ending in a compromise of some sort.

"Other states have done Medicaid expansion with work requirements and things like that.  So that might be where we compromise to.  But we're definitely going to have a lot of conflict in negotiating," Dr. Allen explained.

Another topic he expects will be big, a court ordered increase in funding to your child's school.  But, where should the money come from?  And, how much more are we talking about?  Those could be stumbling blocks for lawmakers, though maybe not as big as they  have been in recent years.

"There's probably a better shot of getting this done during the regular session than there has been in the past," Dr. Allen said.  "The amount of money that would be needed to satisfy the state supreme court is less than in the past."

The increased revenues after the 2016 tax overhaul gives the state some leeway in finding that money.

"It's not clear that there's really an appetite to reopen this fight, which some conservatives want to," he said.  "But there's a lot of Republicans that really would like to let this lie and move on to issues where they can start beating Democrats on." 

Issues where Governor Laura Kelly has more direct control, such as how various state departments are run, will be where we see the biggest changes this year.  Dr. Allen says to watch human services agencies, like DCF, for those changes.