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Kansas Motion for Kids employees Jesica Herrera Russell, left, and Adrian Olignik welcomed a number of coverage adjustments by the 2022 legislature, however urged lawmakers to look intently on the want for childcare, useful well being and dietary help for youngsters. (Tim Carpenter/Reflector KS)

by Tim Carpenter
KS reflector

TOPEKA – Kansas Motion for Kids Adrienne Olejnik is aware of the look of youngsters who lack a sustainable meals supply, high quality early childhood schooling, and profit from routine medical care.

Her job required wanting frankly within the eyes of politicians within the 2022 Kansas legislature who’re making choices that have not at all times put these needy youngsters excessive on the agenda regardless of the state’s huge monetary surplus.

“I would love them to have the conversations they have been neglecting for the previous a number of years,” Olejnik stated on the Kansas Reflector podcast. β€œWe’ve a variety of uninsured kids. Lots of kids are going hungry.”

This is a peek at three statistics that inspire Olejnik: 86,000 below six with out licensed youngster care, 43,000 with out medical health insurance in 2019 earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic, and one in six going through meals insecurity.

β€œWe’re sitting on this finances surplus, and I do know they need to be a bit cautious and frugal, however they’re fast to take tax cuts on a regular basis, but they’re in no rush to put money into youngsters. So, if I had a magic wand, I would make them actually take into consideration Their function is in our subsequent era,” stated Olignik, vp of the Kansas Motion Basis for Kids.

KAC, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group primarily based in Topeka, works with native organizations, state coverage makers, and different advocates to make a distinction within the lives of youngsters all through Kansas. Their quest is to construct a nation the place each youngster secures the care, schooling and sources wanted to thrive.

The legislature yearly passes payments aimed toward childcare, however the KAC believes lawmakers have usually settled on the established order. The 2022 legislature has voted to maintain a whole lot of thousands and thousands of {dollars} in reserve funds, which will likely be out there for future investments reasonably than having a right away impression.

β€œYou already know, proper now, households reside β€” not essentially thrive,” stated Jessica Herrera Russell, of Kansas Motion for Kids.

The Home and Senate authorized a discount within the state’s meals gross sales tax from 6.5% to 4% on January 1, 2023. Laws signed by Gov. Laura Kelly, who favored the repeal of the state’s regressive gross sales tax on groceries on July 1, eliminates the state’s portion of the tax Meals gross sales January 1, 2025.

β€œWhen the preliminary cuts really begin, it would assist … with these elevated prices as a result of inflation in groceries,” Russell stated. “I hope this cash will return into the households’ pockets.”

The legislature handed an financial growth invoice that included increasing the employer tax credit score for childcare. Since 2012, it has been restricted to sure sorts of companies. Henceforth, all sorts of companies will be capable of unfold credit score to enhance affordability and availability of childcare for his or her employees.

Olejnik stated a wave of organizations and people has appealed to the legislature to amend state legislation to develop entry to a program designed to help employees struggling to safe youngster care.

β€œThis is likely one of the successes that this session has introduced us,” Olejnik stated. β€œAny firm can help their staff both by offering on-site childcare, and a few firms right here in Kansas do this. They will additionally subsidize the price of childcare for his or her staff. So, they’ll make a sure stage of contribution to make it inexpensive.”

The legislature refused to develop eligibility for Medicaid to greater than 100,000 Kansans below the Reasonably priced Care Act. The governor beneficial growth. Polls indicated that the majority Kansans help the extension of KanCare to lower-income households, however resistance amongst some Republican lawmakers remained. They argued that this system could be too costly or that creating a bigger entitlement program was not good for Kansas.

Olejnik stated the state ought to develop the class of Medicaid lined individuals and make investments extra in offering Medicaid companies to individuals with disabilities on ready lists.

The legislature, regardless of Kelly’s veto, authorized a invoice stopping the Democratic governor from shifting ahead with rewriting the $4 billion annual contract with three for-profit insurers that present KanCare companies statewide. This laws was controversial as a result of no particular person, group, firm, or lobbyist had come ahead to assert possession of the invoice.

Olejnik stated the state’s present contract with KanCare service suppliers was not restricted as a result of it didn’t require disclosure of essential details about the supply and high quality of companies to kids.

Nevertheless, the legislature has handed a invoice including Kansas to a brand new federal program that will increase protection of postpartum melancholy by means of Medicaid from the present two months after childbirth to 12 months after childbirth. It was beneficial in January by Kelly, and the Home and Senate included the required language within the state’s new finances.

“We all know that when moms are wholesome, their kids are wholesome,” Russell stated. β€œThey’re on observe to get their healthcare wants met. So, this was actually essential.”