Kansas governor calls for expanded Medicaid, school funds

Laura Kelly outlines plans in address
Kansas governor calls for expanded Medicaid, school funds
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New Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly told Kansas legislators that the state faces an emergency in its child welfare system and is “completely unprepared” for the next national economic downturn.

In her first State of the State address, Kelly outlined an agenda Wednesday evening for the Republican-dominated Legislature that includes increased spending on public schools and expanding the state’s Medicaid health coverage for the needy.

She also told lawmakers that she will honor her pledge to balance the budget without raising taxes.

Kelly’s pitch to expand Medicaid in Kansas to cover up to 150,000 more people has not moved Republican leaders opposed to the idea.

Kelly spent nearly six minutes of her 37-minute attempting to make a case that expanding Medicaid will help Kansas families and rural hospitals and communities. She promised to have a plan drafted before the end of January.

But top Republican lawmakers said nothing in her speech made them rethink their opposition. They continue to view Medicaid expansion as too costly to the state, even after the federal government covers the bulk of the expense.

Past GOP governors opposed expansion.

Kelly’s tough tone was the most notable element of her address to a joint session of the House and Senate. She declared, “I was elected to rebuild our state.”

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