Archive for Thursday, March 24, 2005

Senate advances budget without education funds

March 24, 2005


— A proposed budget largely mirroring one drafted by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius won first-round approval Wednesday in the Senate, but the $11.2 billion spending plan doesn't provide additional dollars to public schools.

Republican leaders said the Senate couldn't address education funding because legislators haven't settled on a plan for satisfying a Kansas Supreme Court order giving lawmakers until April 12 to improve education funding.

The Senate already has approved a plan to increase aid to public schools by $147 million during the fiscal year beginning July 1, but House members approved a $116 million proposal. Both rely on existing state revenues and cash reserves.

Senators advanced their budget on a voice vote, with final action scheduled for Thursday. Negotiators from the two chambers will draft the budget's final version.

House Republicans rewrote large parts of Sebelius' proposed budget, shifting money from higher education to help provide new dollars to public schools. The House also voted to delay for nine months, until March 2006, a 2.5 percent pay raise for state employees that was sought by the Democratic governor.

But senators made only one major policy change from Sebelius' proposals, deleting $13 million for expanding prisons and juvenile corrections centers.

Under the Senate's budget, overall state spending would increase $406 million during the next fiscal year.

"We found that the governor offered a very realistic and sensible budget," said Sen. Dwayne Umbarger, R-Thayer.

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