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Archive for Monday, April 9, 1990

BUDGET ISSUES REMAIN IN LIMBO

April 9, 1990

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From Staff Reports

State Rep. Jessie Branson, D-Lawrence, uses an old baseball cliche "it's never over 'til it's over" to describe the 1990 legislative session.

Her analysis was on the mark Sunday when the regular session of the 1990 Legislature ended. Bills to appropriate half of the $5 billion state budget remain in limbo.

Although the Legislature usually forwards all but the omnibus budget bill to Gov. Mike Hayden by first adjournment, lawmakers will return April 25 for an unusually lengthy wrap-up session.

Sen. Wint Winter, R-Lawrence, today criticized efforts by House Democrats and conservative Republicans to "blackmail" the Legislature into adjusting budget bills.

"WE'RE NOT going to submit to near-terrorist tactics," Winter said. "We're not going to accept any of these blackmail attempts to get us to fund these bills."

Winter said he was disturbed that the $905 million Kansas Board of Regents budget, which includes money for Kansas University, was being held hostage by the House.

"Rebels and House Democrats will have to decide whether they want to jeopardize regents funding," he said. "The longer it's in the stir, the greater the danger it can change."

Marlin Rein, KU associate budget director, said today there was nothing good about delaying action on the KU and KU Medical Center budgets, which total about $460 million.

THE PROPOSED Fiscal Year 1991 budget compromise between the House and Senate for the regents system provides:

A 4 percent raise for faculty and unclassified staff, which would be about half the raise granted in fiscal 1990.

For classified (civil service) employees, a 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment and 2.5 percent raise in the pay scale.

$7.5 million for student salaries, the same amount as this year despite Hayden's attempt to cut the budget.

Another issue, school finance, still faces legislators. The school finance bill passed by the Senate on Saturday allows Lawrence to increase its budget authority by 1 percent next year.

And although that's the lowest increase Lawrence School Supt. Dan Neuenswander can remember, he said today it would come as a breath of fresh air if the House passes it later in the month.

"LAWRENCE obviously will be better off than under what was originally proposed by the governor," said Neuenswander, referring to a plan that would have pushed state aid from 11 percent to 4 percent of the school district's budget.

That drop would occur if the Legislature were to hand out state aid based on Lawrence's district wealth, which the state determined to be $90 million more than previously estimated. But the Senate chose to ignore district wealth completely, for Lawrence and all other schools statewide.

"It becomes kind of a non-formula, but it's probably the best we can do this year," Neuenswander said. "Financially, it helps us as much as if they had changed the formula."

THE PLAN would be valid only this year, and the Legislature would devise a new formula next year for distributing state elementary and secondary education aid.

Neuenswander said the 1 percent increase in budget authority would change the district's per-pupil funding from $3,600 to $3,636. The change also would bring a 2.01-mill increase in the district's mill levy.

A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of assessed property valuation.

Also under the bill, districts have the option of raising their budgets an extra 1 percent, subject to protest petitions being circulated by patrons of the district to force a vote.

The city of Lawrence, much like Lawrence schools and KU, is awaiting the outcome of the veto session before counting its legislative victories or losses.

KELLY ARNOLD, city management analyst and the city's chief liaison to the Legislature, said legislation still is up in the air on motor vehicle property taxes, the "iron-clad" property tax lid and ad valorem property taxes, all of which affect the city.

Here's a look at the status of pieces of legislation affecting the city:

A bill that would help the city recoup an expected $337,955 shortfall in 1991 motor vehicle property tax receipts is tabled in the House Taxation Committee. "That was one of our top priority items in our legislative program," Arnold said. "We're disappointed there's been no action in the House. It is tabled in committee, so I guess there is a possibility something could happen in the cleanup session."

Gov. Mike Hayden's proposed "iron-clad tax lid" which would limit the amount of money raised in property taxes by local governments, has been watered down and passed by the House but has yet to be debated by the full Senate.

A proposed constitutional amendment designed to give property tax relief to small businesses was passed by the Senate but remains mired in the House.

"WE'LL USE the two-week break to evaluate what has happened, and we'll get back in contact with our local legislators to inform them of the effects of the pending legislation," Arnold said. "We anticipate a lot of action in the final week of the session."

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