Government Relations Update – 12/02/09

by

Kristi Wyatt, Senior Vice President, Government Relations & Policy Development

KC BizPAC hosts Legislators, New Members
KC BizPAC hosted it’s first ever membership expansion event last night, “Local Brew with the Political Crew,” at Boulevard Brewery, sponsored by Kansas City Internal Medicine, Kansas City Life Insurance Company, QC Holdings Companies, and Sprint.  Over 25 area legislators from Kansas and Missouri, including a powerful showing from both states’ leadership, were on hand to network with close to 45 new KC BizPAC members and hear what they had to say about the issues that matter most to them and their bottom lines.

To learn more about KC BizPAC, visit www.kcchamber.com, keyword search: KCBizPAC. 

What does a $60 million shortfall really mean?
As reported in The Chamber’s City Haller, the City of Kansas City Missouri recently announced it is facing a $60 to $65 million shortfall for Fiscal Year 2010/2011.  Kansas Citians might find it interesting how that number is derived.

City budget officials look at current revenues and then estimate how those revenues will come in for the upcoming year.  For example, earnings, sales and property taxes are evaluated.  With declines in those areas in the current year, City officials estimate virtually no growth in those areas for 2010.  Then budget officials look at all the current budget commitments, whether made by statutory obligations or just by Council priorities, articulated in a resolution.  The budget office then estimates that if all the current programs are to continue in 2010, what the shortfall would be in 2010 – this year’s figure is $60 to $65 million. 

By law, Kansas City, Missouri cannot run a budget shortfall, so the Council, Mayor, and City Manager will have to find programs to cut or new revenues streams to close the budget gap in time for the budget to be adopted in April.  This year’s budget will be even more challenging, since Kansas City made major budget cuts just last year.

What do we do about K-12 funding in Kansas?
Chamber staff met with House Appropriations Chair Kevin Yoder, Johnson County school district superintendents, and Overland Park Chamber leaders on Monday to discuss strategies to assure adequate funding for K-12 education in the next fiscal year’s budget.  Several creative ideas were considered, and the group hopes to have an agreed-upon menu of short and long term funding options soon.

Sprint Ranks #15 as a Green Company!
I recently learned that our very own Sprint was recently ranked #15 in Newsweek’s 2009 Green Rankings.  This is out of the country’s largest 500 companies!  Sprint’s ranking is based on their environmental impact, as well as their green policies and reputation among their peers and environmental experts.  Sprint is the first U.S.-based wireless telecom company to announce an absolute GHG emissions reduction target.  They also set a goal in 2009 for 90% of their suppliers to be in compliance with their environmental standards by 2017.  Sprint also has a very strong recycling program.  The whole list can be found at: http://greenrankings.newsweek.com/.

Kansas Senator David Wysong Resigns
The Chamber was saddened to hear of Kansas Senator David Wysong resignation this week.  He has been a tremendous supporter of policy that supports the Kansas City region.  However, I appreciate his commitment to his family and understand the burden that public life places on a family. 

Just this week I will attend six different early morning and evening events in which several lawmakers will be present.  And, it’s not even legislative season.  I want to publicly thank Senator Wysong for his courageous leadership in the effort to institute a state wide smoking ban and for his support of sound energy policy and investment in education.  The Chamber wishes him the best of luck.

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