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.