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Kansas

Our lead ally in Kansas, Kansas Action for Children (KAC), shapes health, education and economic policy on behalf of all children in the state. The organization’s advocacy strategy includes research and analysis, communications and outreach, and public policy advancement. KAC prioritizes opportunities that contribute to mitigating, preventing, or reducing childhood poverty for children from birth through age eight.

2023 State Early Childhood Policy Environment and Progress

State early childhood policy progress is dependent both on the state’s policy environment and the numerous efforts — by those listed on this page and many others — who worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

Early Childhood  Landscape:

Research shows that family economic security is foundational to children’s overall wellbeing. Research also shows that widespread disparities in opportunity (especially by race) drive wide disparities in outcomes. States with policies that offer strong support to young children and their families are more likely to see 1) declining numbers of children in low-income households and 2) low racial disparity among those children. 

Young Children in Low-Income Households: Declining

Approximately 37% (121,000) of the state’s children 0-8 live in households below 200% FPL (2021). This number represents a decrease from 42% (146,000) in 2016.1

Racial Disparity Among Young Children Living in Low-Income Households: High

Black, Hispanic/Latino, and/or Native children aged 0-8 are significantly more likely to be living in households below 200% FPL than are Asian and non-Hispanic White children.2

Racial Disparity Among Young Children Living in Low-Income Households: High

Non-White children 0-8 are significantly more likely to be living in households below 200% FPL.3

Advocacy Landscape:

State General Fund Appropriations: Growing 

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly signed the state’s budget bill for fiscal 2024 on April 21. The fiscal 2024 all funds budget totals 23.8 billion, a 3.7 percent decrease from fiscal 2023. General fund expenditures for fiscal 2024 total $9.47 billion, a 2.1 percent increase from fiscal 2023’s approved level. General fund revenues for fiscal 2024 are projected to be $10.35 billion, a 12.1 percent increase above the revised fiscal 2023 estimate. The enacted budget for fiscal 2024 projects the ending balance in the State General Fund to be $2.66 billion, or 28.1 percent of total expenditures. This is separate from the $1.64 billion that is projected to be in the Budget Stabilization Fund by the end of fiscal 2024.3

Key Revenue Sources:

    • Personal Income Tax (2.7%-4.6%)
    • State Sales Tax (6.5%)

Political Alignment: Divided

During the 2023 session, the state’s Senate and House were both Republican controlled. The state’s Governor was a Democrat.4

Types of Common Ballot Measures Available:5  One

    • Legislature-initiated constitutional amendment – a proposed constitutional amendment that appears on Kansas’ ballot as a ballot measure because the Kansas State Legislature voted to put it before the voters. If two-thirds of the members of each chamber of the Kansas State Legislature approve a proposed constitutional amendment to the Kansas Constitution, the Kansas Secretary of State publishes notice of it. The proposition, or a suitable ballot title and summary, is then placed on the statewide ballot in the next general election. A simple majority vote is required to approve the amendment.

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Organizations Include:

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Multi-State Initiatives Include:6

2023 Policy Progress:

Advocates are celebrating several bipartisan defensive wins, such as stopping the loosening of child care safety standards, changes to vaccine requirements and public health procedure, and sending state dollars to non-public schools. Advocates are grateful, however, lawmakers elevated Kansas’ child care crisis, which they see as an opportunity to make progress towards sustainable solutions in future years.

Highlights from the state’s early childhood policy advocacy community include:7

Early Childhood Transition Task Force. In January, the Kansas Governor signed an executive order creating a task force to devise a plan for creating a new state agency focused on kids from birth to kindergarten. The task force will present its recommendations in early 2024. These years of a child’s life are crucial to laying the foundation for educational outcomes, and an agency focused on maximizing this development is key to ensuring every kid has early learning opportunities.

Preserving Child Care Safety Standards. Lawmakers attempted to tackle the child care crisis via a short-sighted proposal — Senate Sub. for HB 2344. This would have made sweeping changes to child care safety standards across the state and also cemented those regulations into law, creating an inflexible system. The bill was pushed through despite an outpouring of provider and advocate opposition. Thankfully, the House was unable to override the Governor’s veto, so the bill failed to become law.

Vouchers Defeated. It was clear at the beginning of the session that several K-12 committee members were focused on passing voucher-like provisions. Fortunately, House Sub. for SB 83, giving more public dollars to non-public schools, was decisively voted down by the Senate. However, those committee members tied this policy to increased special education funding. Now, school districts are left to fill in the funding gaps again.

Temporary Budget Fixes for Health Priorities. Advocates supported three key items that will improve child and public health in the state budget. While the goal is to make all of these permanent, the temporary fixes will help Kansans in the meantime. 1) A one-year fix to expand eligibility thresholds for CHIP,  2) Funding to increase the budget cap for the newborn screening program, and 3) Updated local health department funding.

Protecting Vaccine and Public Health Policy. A slim majority of the Senate was determined to dismantle current public health and vaccine policy. Advocates witnessed intense hearings, negotiations, misinformation, procedural maneuvering, and late-night floor debates. In the final hours of the session, a bill upending established quarantine procedure (HB 2285) passed by thin margins, with strong bipartisan opposition. Advocates welcomed the Governor’s veto, but remain concerned for what may be in store in 2024.

Tax Policy. A single vote protected Kansas from going back to the days of underfunded education, crumbling roads, and cuts to vital services. Due to a bipartisan group of Senators, the state’s graduated income tax structure was preserved when House Sub. for SB 169, which would decrease revenue by an estimated $330 million each year, failed to receive enough votes to override the Governor’s veto. Now, the state continues to ensure it meets its obligations to fully fund schools, infrastructure projects, and other services that matter to all Kansas families.

Defeating a Food Assistance Restriction. The Kansas House’s new “Welfare Reform Committee” set its sights on the food assistance program, which temporarily helps low-income Kansans supplement their grocery budgets. Advocates were successful in defeating HB 2141, which would have required non-custodial parents to “cooperate” with child support to receive food assistance. If this bill had become law, children would have been harmed by their parent’s worsened financial hardship.

Ongoing Grantee Areas of Advocacy:

The Alliance’s lead grantee in Kansas, Kansas Action for Children, is working to advance early childhood policies in several areas that align with the Alliance’s birth-through-eight policy framework

Early Care and Education

Preschool and Pre-K

K-3rd Grade

Child Care

Child Care Workforce

 

Child and
Maternal Health

Infant & Child Health

Maternal Health

Early Intervention (Age 0-3)

Family
Supports

Family Economic Security

Home Visiting

 

Early Childhood Infrastructure

Financing 

Governance

Click here for more information on advocates’ policy agenda.

RECENT ADVOCACY SNAPSHOT:

Advocates in Kansas Leverage Data to Defeat Harmful Immunization Legislation

With swift action and advocacy efforts, advocates at Kansas Action for Children (KAC) were able to defeat proposed vaccination legislation that would limit vaccine requirements for children. Leveraging data and research, along with strong partnerships at the legislative level, advocates made it to the end of session without a single change to state immunization requirements.

Read More »

NOTES:

1 Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, November, 2022 

2 National Center for Children in Poverty, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, March 2023, NCCP analysis of ACS 1-Year Estimates – Public Use Microdata Sample 2021

3 National Association of State Budget Officers, Summaries of Fiscal Year 2024 Enacted Budgets, October 11,2023.

4 National Conference of State Legislatures, 2023 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, February 28, 2023.

5 Ballotpedia, Ballot Measures by State, Kids Count Data Center, retrieved May, 2023.

6 Alliance for Early Success, Multi-State Initiatives for Early Childhood Policy Advocacy, April, 2022.

7 Alliance for Early Success, State-Wide Advocacy Highlights Survey, April-August, 2023.  

More State Policy Data:

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More State Demographic Data:

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