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Archive for Thursday, April 23, 2009

Senate committee works to balance budget

April 23, 2009

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— A bill cutting about $125 million from Kansas’ next budget, including $75 million in state aid to public schools, received a Senate committee’s endorsement Thursday.

The reduction in aid for K-12 schools amounts to about 2.5 percent of their state funding. Base aid per pupil would drop about $70, to $4,297.

The Ways and Means Committee’s 11-1 vote sent the bill to the Senate for debate, which is expected next week. The measure will be part of a larger plan to balance the budget for fiscal year 2010, which begins July 1.

Under the bill, state universities, community colleges and vocational colleges would lose about $20 million, although they’d have the option of raising tuition in the fall. Other agencies and some social services programs also would lose 2.5 percent of their funding.

“Given the situation we’re in, this budget is as good as we’re going to get,” said Sen. Laura Kelly, of Topeka, the committee’s ranking Democrat.

Legislators approved a $13 billion budget in March, but a new revenue forecast that was issued earlier this month shows the state facing a $328 million deficit when the upcoming fiscal year ends in June 2010.

Lawmakers must revise the budget once the entire Legislature returns Wednesday from its annual spring break.

The committee’s bill also includes some revenue adjustments. It taps gambling funds, diverts money from cities and counties and gathers up unused regulatory fees sitting in funds outside the state’s main bank account.

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