Archive for Thursday, April 22, 2004

Sebelius seeks additions to already approved budget

April 22, 2004


— Even as Gov. Kathleen Sebelius declared that the state had no money to spare, her administration drafted budget proposals requiring an extra $11 million in general revenues.

Sebelius' latest proposals -- additions to a $10.2 billion budget already approved for the fiscal year beginning July 1 -- became public Wednesday, when the House Appropriations Committee began discussing an appropriations cleanup bill.

The governor submitted 36 proposals to the House panel and the Senate Ways and Means Committee for more than $93 million in additional spending. Most of the proposed spending reflects an expectation that the state will receive more federal funds than previously thought.

But some items would be covered from the state's general revenues, including continuation of a state program that handles violent sexual predators, space in private prisons and new detention beds for juvenile offenders.

Fiscal forecasters predicted Tuesday the state will collect about $40 million more in general revenues through mid-2005 than previously expected. But key legislators said the extra money would be eaten up by higher-than-anticipated costs for social services, teacher pensions and aid to school districts.

"We are in a very tight budget situation and there is simply no money for additional expenditures," Sebelius said in a statement Tuesday.

Yet the Democratic governor sent a letter -- also dated Tuesday -- to the two budget committees' chairmen outlining her latest spending proposals.

"Obviously, there's a disconnect there somewhere," said House Speaker Doug Mays, R-Topeka. "In the end, we'll sort it out."

Sebelius spokesman Nicole Corcoran said Wednesday there was no inconsistency because the governor's latest proposals are "not additional expenditures as referred to in our statement."

"This is essential, 'have-to' spending," Corcoran said.

The Senate committee planned to begin meeting Thursday to work on its own budget cleanup bill. The entire Legislature is scheduled to return April 28 from an annual spring recess.

If legislators adopted all of Sebelius' proposals, the budget for the next fiscal year would be nearly $10.3 billion, with overall spending increasing by 0.7 percent.

The budget Sebelius already has signed trimmed overall spending by three-tenths of 1 percent during the next fiscal year.

Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, agreed that some of the latest proposals from Sebelius appeared essential.

For example, Sebelius proposed spending $2.7 million in general revenues to support the sex predators program at Larned State Hospital. She also recommended $1.46 million to allow the state to contract for space for inmates in county jails or private prisons.

She also proposed $1.1 million to open space for 60 inmates at a newly built juvenile detention center in Topeka.

On the Net:

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