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Archive for Thursday, December 17, 2009

Statehouse Live: Parkinson says no more cuts to education

December 17, 2009, 9:16 a.m. Updated December 17, 2009, 6:07 p.m.

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— Gov. Mark Parkinson said Thursday he will not approve any more cuts to public schools or higher education and that he is considering a tax increase to bridge the next revenue shortfall.

“My view is that we have cut education, K (kindergarten) through 12 and regents, as far we can cut without jeopardizing the quality of the education that we provide,” Parkinson said in an interview with the Lawrence Journal-World.

Even after five rounds of budget cuts that have affected nearly every area of state government and services, Parkinson said Kansas will still face a gap of about $300 million when the 2010 legislative session starts.

To make that up, he said, will require more federal funds, an upturn in tax revenues, new taxes or eliminating some current sales tax exemptions.

“We’re analyzing all of them, and they are all on the table right now. The one thing that is not on the table is to cut education any more,” he said.

Public schools have lost $300 million in state funding, and higher education has lost $106 million during the current budget crisis.

Higher education officials appeared to have been briefed earlier on Parkinson’s position.

“We can be fortunate we have a governor who we can all say is clearly standing behind higher education,” Kansas Board of Regents Chair Jill Docking said at the regents meeting.

Parkinson said he is also considering an increase in the state cigarette tax because it would provide more revenue and reduce teen smoking.

The state tax on cigarettes in Kansas is 79 cents per pack, while the average state cigarette tax is $1.34. But opponents of increasing the Kansas tax say many smokers will travel to Missouri to buy cigarettes to take advantage of the second lowest tax in the nation — 17 cents per pack.

Parkinson called Missouri’s low cigarette tax “archaic.” He added, “We should not allow Missouri’s very poor public policy to impact the decisions that we make.”

He also said additional cuts to the state prison system and Medicaid services to elderly and disabled people are out of the question.

“Additional cuts to Corrections will result in us having to release prisoners and, obviously, we are not going to do that,” he said.

On higher education, Parkinson said he fears cuts to Kansas University may hurt efforts by the school to secure national designation for its cancer center.

Parkinson, a Democrat, will face opposition to any kind of tax increase from the Republican-dominated Legislature.

Despite the budget crisis, Parkinson said he is optimistic.

“We have survived the greatest economic challenge that we have faced since the Great Depression. We’re now at a time when the economy is starting to turn and we can start to recover from this and, hopefully, replenish some of these cuts that have been made,” he said.

Comments

Phil Minkin 5 years ago

At what point do you think the economic future of the state will be negatively effected by cuts in education and what can you and will you do about it?

miss_megsy 5 years ago

I work in education in a small rural Kansas community. The cut in state aid per-pupil is hitting our district very hard. Cuts are being made across the board, and it has even been suggested that staff agree to take a pay cut in order to make the budget in light of all the shortfall created by the cut in state aid. My question to the Governor would be - As these cuts in programs and staffing continue in schools all across the state, have you considered what the long-term consequences of these actions may be? Placing more kids in a classroom without extra support staff or removing programs like tutoring and additional support in areas like math and reading may save money now, but at what cost in the long run?

meggers 5 years ago

Will you and members of your administration be willing to take a 10% across-the-board salary cut, and will you encourage members of the state legislature to do the same?

Godot 5 years ago

Governor Parkinson, it is reported today that the State of Arizona has put state buildings up for sale in order to help close its budget gap, and authorities have announced that they will not be able to meet payroll or fund schools in February. Arizona will hand out IOU's in lieu of checks.

If spending cuts are not made, how long will it be before Kansas is forced to do the same thing?

Godot 5 years ago

Both the senate and house health care reform bills call for setting up Federal oversight of health insurance. How will that affect Kansas laws and regulations regarding health insurance? Will the legislature have to rescind health insurance statutes? Since health insurance regulation will be taken out of the hands of the State, will it allow for a downsizing of the Kansas Insurance Commissioners staff?

Godot 5 years ago

Are you considering recommending that the number of school districts in Kansas be reduced?

getreal 5 years ago

Will you pledge not to request a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education to take our K-12 and Higher Ed state funding below 2006 levels which would then allow legislature to slash school budgets even further?

lounger 5 years ago

When will the State of Kansas take the pollution of the Kansas river seriously?

Paul Decelles 5 years ago

Would you please consider running so we don't have to put up with Sam Brownback?

Melissa Carlson 5 years ago

2:33!!! I hope I'm not too late. I want to know if the Governor will either run or endorse endorse a young fresh face for the race against Brownback. Kansas has talent. The Dem leadership just isn't recognizing it.

srothschild 5 years ago

I did get a few of your questions in regarding education funding and whether he and his staff would take a salary cut. Much of my story from the interview will deal with school funding, taxes and other budget issues. In response to the salary question, Gov. Parkinson said his office has been able to cut its budget by keeping staff levels low. That will require some research to verify, but I will do that later. Thanks for reading and for your questions.

Centerville 5 years ago

He says there won't be any cuts to Medicaid. The facetiously named "Health Care Reform" bill (that hasn't been written yet) is supposed to include a federal mandate that each state's Medicaid costs will increase dramatically. That will make things even more interesting.

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