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Archive for Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Governor signs budget legislation into law

May 21, 2003

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— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has signed the final piece of a plan to balance the state's $10.2 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year, her office announced Tuesday.

The bill, which Sebelius signed Monday, authorizes Sebelius to take either of two steps to help bring revenue in line with spending in fiscal 2004, which starts July 1.

She may require Kansans to pay the second half of their property taxes in May rather than June starting in 2004 -- a decision she would have to make by Sept. 30 of this year. Or, she may let the state distribute up to $49.5 million in tax refunds later than normal next year.

Last week, Sebelius signed a measure delaying $213 million in school aid payments from June 15 to July 1 each year.

The bills provide the means for covering an estimated $254 million revenue shortfall in the budget approved by lawmakers and leave the state with money on hand at the end of fiscal 2004.

"It gives us a little wiggle room if revenues don't come in," said Budget Director Duane Goossen.

Officials have estimated that the speeded-up property tax payments would leave the state with $150 million in the bank on June 30, 2004, while delaying tax refunds would leave about $25 million.

Sebelius has said she did not want to delay tax refunds, but she did not have to decide which step to take until Aug. 1 at the earliest.

Budget officials said the state's obligations would drop by $163 million next year if school districts received property tax payments in May rather than June. That is because the state pays the difference between those revenues and what districts can budget.

While the tactics give the state room under its budget, Goossen said there still was reason for fiscal concern.

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