WIBW NEWS: CEO of Kansas Action for Children raises legal questions about potential tobacco deal

By Nick Gosnell
April 21, 2016

A child advocate in Kansas says there may be legal questions as to the procedure Governor Brownback plans to use to get legislative approval for securitizing a portion of the state’s tobacco settlement.

“In the Governor’s proposal yesterday, he indicated its his intention to do this through proviso,” said Shannon Cotsoradis, President and CEO of Kansas Action for Children. “Essentially, a proviso is a temporary condition that’s attached to a particular budget. We’re talking about modifying the settlement for 20 to 30 years going forward. I think the question is, can you do that with a proviso without removing the other statutory protections that are in place for the Kansas Endowment for Youth and the Children’s Initiatives Fund?”

Kansas Action for Children thinks the answer to that question is no.

“We believe that they have to eliminate the protections in place with the Children’s Initiatives Fund and the KEY Fund before they can securitize the settlement,” Cotsoradis said. “The way that law is currently written, the dollars have to flow directly in to the Kansas Endowment for Youth.”

This isn’t just a legal question, though, says Cotsoradis.

“I think it goes deeper than that,” she says. “In essence, if the Legislature did authorize the Governor to move forward in securitizing via a proviso, they would be leaving this in his hands. This is the same Governor that has put us in this situation to begin with. I’m not sure it makes sense to allow the current administration to negotiate that deal with no legislative oversight.”

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