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Archive for Friday, March 11, 2005

House panel reduces governor’s funding for state employees, higher ed

March 11, 2005

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State employees and higher education took a hit today in the House budget-writing committee.

The Appropriations panel recommended delaying Gov. Kathleen Sebelius proposed 2.5 percent payraise for state workers from July 1 until March 12, 2006.

The committee also recommended reducing Sebelius' proposed increase in the operating grant to higher education from $18 million to $13 million.

Appropriations Committee Chairman Melvin Neufeld, a Republican from Ingalls, said the reductions in Sebelius' budget were needed to fund a House-approved public school finance plan and leave enough monies in the state's reserves.

"This moves the ball down the field. We have a long way to go," Neufeld said.

The recommendation will next go the full House. The Senate is working on its version of a state budget.

Democrats on the Appropriations Committee were dissatisfied.

"I'm just unhappy with it," state Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, said. "I just don't think it sends any good message to state workers."

Sebelius also expressed opposition. Delaying the payraise "will discourage a lot of our talented employees and might encourage them to look outside the state for employment. I hate to see the Legislature use them as the scapegoat," she said.

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