advice on budget woes

Several Kansas lawmakers said they enjoyed the candid remarks from Gov. Bill Graves and the former governors about the state’s budget problems.

“That was phenomenal, and I don’t even use that word,” said state Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence.

She said tax increases might be necessary and that lawmakers should heed Graves’ advice to get to work as soon as possible on looking for ways to cut the budget.

Ballard, a member of the House budget-writing committee, said she didn’t blame the major-party gubernatorial candidates for not providing details on what they would do to balance the budget.

Both Republican Tim Shallenburger and Democrat Kathleen Sebelius have said they opposed raising taxes and that they would protect public school funding, which makes up half the state budget.

“I think the candidates are saying what the people of Kansas want to hear. Education is the No. 1 issue in the whole state of Kansas,” Ballard said.

She said both candidates probably lacked the detailed knowledge about government spending that would be needed to provide specific proposals.

Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, said taxes were going to be increased either on the state or local level.

“We are going to preside over a tax increase,” he said.

Sen. Jim Barone, D-Frontenac, said the next governor would have to lead the way for the Legislature.

“It will take strong leadership from the new governor. Absent strong leadership, we will have a long and difficult session,” he said.