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Right now, my family is being held hostage by the Republican Party.

Sound a little dramatic?  Maybe it is.  But, it isn't a joke.

Right now, my family is being held hostage by the Republican Party.

Sound a little dramatic?  Maybe it is.  But, it isn't a joke.

My husband is an employee of the state of Kansas.  Right now, we don't know if he will be paid as promised at the end of the week.

I work in a public hospital.  Our patient population includes a substantial percentage of people who rely on Medicaid programs to pay for their healthcare.  Today, the state stopped processing and paying claims for Medicaid.

Why?  Because the Republican leadership of the of the Kansas legislature insists on linking two unrelated problems and playing a version of Russian roulette with the employees of the state, as well as with the indigent.

Kansas has an annual problem.  Residents who will receive refunds from filing their income tax returns tend to file in late January and early February.  Residents who will owe additional income tax when the file their returns tend to file in late March and early April.  This is understandable.  People want to hold onto the money as long as they can if they're having to pay additional taxes, and they want their money back as fast as they can get it if they are getting a refund.  While this coincides quite well with human nature, it creates problems for the state.

In years past, this has been addressed by having the state general fund borrow from encumbered funds in order to continue operations through February and March, then paying those loans back when the majority of taxpayers complete their returns.  There is a perpetual low-voiced whine about this, as there are those who believe it is a sign of fiscal mismanagement.  Somehow, the state is supposed to meet all of its fiscal obligations for the general fund beginning on July 1 while still reserving money for operations the following January, February and March, but without having a significant upswing in revenues until the end of March.

This year, Kansas also has another problem.  We're facing a significant shortfall in the budget, well over $200 million.  There are a lot of arguments on how to address this.  One of the outside influences on the state budget process is that the minimum funding levels for kindergarten through high school education have been found by a state court to be a constitutionally-mandated obligation.  Getting to the point of a decision on that required a horrendously expensive lawsuit that the state could not afford when it had to deal with it during prosperous times.  There is no money to go to court again.  One of the concerns about the budget passed by the state legislature is that it may not pass muster with the court should any of the school districts in the state, especially those that sued before, not feel they were adequately funded and go back to court.  The lawsuit before was funded almost entirely by taxpayers within their districts, because they did not believe that their students were getting adequate educations for the tax dollars being paid.

The budget bill that was passed by the state legislature has no relationship to the operational loans that the governor has requested from other funds in order to keep the state government functioning during the financial low period.

Today, the governor signed the budget bill, while using the line-item veto power on the K-12 funding sections.  That was determined to be the best solution for dealing with the situation.  There is no guarantee at this point that the loans will be approved by the state financial council, so we still don't know what will happen later this week.

We're preparing for the worst case scenario, that on Friday my husband will be told not to report for work because the state of Kansas can't pay him.

We have a freezer full of food, especially meat, that I've purchased over the last few months from a local farmer and a nearby locker plant. I have put together a full pantry to cook from. I know which grocery store to go to in order to get the best variety of produce at the best prices, at least until the farmers' market opens in a few months.

I've checked with our HR department as to what will be involved to add my husband to my health insurance.  Even if he does get paid, the state is considering not funding the employer portion of the health insurance for seven pay periods, approximately fourteen weeks, so we may have to do this no matter what, so that we can assure that he gets the blood pressure medication he needs.

Our credit union, which provides financial services to the employees of the local state university and school district, is aware of the potential problem.  They are exploring what they will do as far as car loans and mortgages.

We're fortunate in that we will still have my income.  We know a lot of couples where both work for the state and are facing having no income.

The best case scenario is that we don't have to rely on any of the plans I've made.  We hope we don't.  But, we are as prepared as we can be.  

Originally posted to EAColeInEmporia on Tue Feb 17, 2009 at 07:37 PM PST.

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