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Archive for Friday, April 5, 2002

Senate panel OKs budget

April 5, 2002

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— The Senate Ways and Means Committee endorsed a proposal Wednesday night for eliminating part of a $700 million budget shortfall while protecting education spending and some social services.

The proposal would dip into the state's rainy day funds, tap extra federal funds and require higher taxes. Committee members didn't know how big a tax increase their plan would require, but it was likely to be at least $200 million.

The committee endorsed a bill making changes in the current budget on an 8-2 vote. It endorsed a bill containing appropriations for the state's next fiscal year, which begins July 1, on a 7-3 vote. Both measures went to the Senate for debate.

"I would describe it as the best we could do under the circumstances," said Ways and Means Chairman Steve Morris, R-Hugoton.

The proposal would keep state aid to school districts at its present $3,870 per student. The higher education system also would see its spending remain constant.

In addition, the committee rejected Gov. Bill Graves' proposal to close five minimum-security prisons.

The bill would protect some programs that provide in-home services to elderly Kansans and the disabled but cut $17.3 million from other social services, including for the mentally ill.

"Ugly it's the only way to describe it," said Sen. Paul Feleciano, who voted against both bills.

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