Topeka More state budget cuts are coming.
That was the word Monday from Gov. Mark Parkinson, who said the current shortfall has grown to $135 million as the fiscal year ends Tuesday.
In brief remarks to reporters, Parkinson ruled out an across-the-board cut. “Some programs have been cut so deeply that to further cut them would, for example, endanger public safety,” he said.
But, he added, “The hole is so deep that it is difficult to spare any large recipient of revenue.”
Last week, KU officials asked for, and received, a 6-percent tuition increase on many students, and 7-percent increase for incoming freshmen, in part because of the anticipation of further budget cuts.
Parkinson declined to say where he would cut, but the big-ticket items in the state budget are public schools, social services, and higher education, which together make up 85 percent of expenditures.
Parkinson has scheduled an 11 a.m. news conference Thursday to discuss his plan to balance the budget.
In the recently-completed legislative session, lawmakers cut the state budget three times as revenues continued to tumble.
Despite the souring budget situation, economic development officials said there were some positive signs on the horizon.
Kansas Department of Commerce Secretary Dave Kerr said the state unemployment rate of 6.9 percent, while the highest in more than a generation, still lags the national rate of 9.4 percent.
Even with the downturn, Kerr said recruitment of businesses to Kansas for the past four years has been at a high level. On the negative side, businesses already in Kansas have seen a downturn, he said.
“We have our challenges, but there are good things happening out there,” Kerr said.
Stan Ahlerich, president of Kansas Inc., said the recent increase in people saving instead of increasing debt is a good sign.
“We’re slow getting into recessions, we’re slow to come out, but we usually don’t go as deep,” Ahlerich said.
Their comments came during a meeting Monday of the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corp.