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Kansas Lawmakers Consider Budget Cut Options

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Kansas News Service
A legislative report says state agencies would face a 7 percent budget reduction in order to fill the state budget hole in the current fiscal year.

Kansas lawmakers are working to fill a $350 million budget hole in the current fiscal year that ends in June. Members of a House committee wanted to know what it would take to erase the deficit using only spending cuts. A legislative report says state agencies would see a 7 percent budget reduction.

Republican Representative Erin Davis requested the information. Davis says she’s not advocating for cutting Kansas spending, but she wanted to see what the option would look like.

After getting the numbers, Davis says the cuts would mean furloughs at some agencies, which would affect services.

“It’s not like they can go from having the toilets cleaned five days a week to two days a week and have a major savings. The effect of this would be that there would be furloughs. Yes, average Kansans would feel this,” Davis says.

The reductions would mean more than $200 million taken from K-12 education. The state’s public universities would take $40 million in cuts.
“Now we have a picture of what the cuts would look like and we’ll see exactly how members want to move forward,” says Republican Troy Waymaster, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Waymaster says the governor’s proposal to dissolve an investment fund to fill the current year’s budget hole looks more palatable than the cuts.

“I’m telling you right now … that would be an extreme hit to K-12,” Waymaster says.

Mark Tallman, with the Kansas Association of School Boards, says some districts may be able to use reserve funds to get through the rest of the fiscal year. He says they’d then have to make spending cuts for the coming years. That could mean closing buildings, reducing staff and cutting student programs.

“There’s no way around it if you’re talking about this type of magnitude of reduction,” Tallman says.

Other cuts in the budget report include:

  • Board of Regents: $13.2 million.
  • Department for Children and Families: $9.5 million.
  • Department for Aging and Disability Services: $25.3 million.
  • Department of Corrections: $11.6 million.
  • Judicial Branch: $7.3 million.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio, a partner in the Kansas News Service.

As the Kansas News Service managing editor, I help our statewide team of reporters find the important issues and breaking news that impact people statewide. We refine our daily stories to illustrate the issues and events that affect the health, well-being and economic stability of the people of Kansas. Email me at skoranda@kcur.org.
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