Archive for Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Kansas Senate passes 2.75 percent across-the-board cut in state budget

Public schools would lose $83M

Lawrence High School Students board buses Tuesday afternoon as lawmakers discussed the state budget at the Capitol in Topeka. The 2.75 percent across-the-board cut that was approved by the Senate would trim funding to public schools by about $83 million.

Lawrence High School Students board buses Tuesday afternoon as lawmakers discussed the state budget at the Capitol in Topeka. The 2.75 percent across-the-board cut that was approved by the Senate would trim funding to public schools by about $83 million.

May 5, 2009


— The Kansas Senate on Tuesday approved a 2.75 percent across-the-board cut in the state budget, which will require “revenue enhancements” to become balanced.

The measure was approved 21-17 by a coalition of mostly moderate Republicans and all Senate Democrats, who said the proposal was a responsible way to close a projected $328 million budget deficit without doing permanent harm to government programs, and to end the wrap-up session that has been going on for a week. Earlier, the coalition fought off a larger proposed cut.

But conservative Republicans said the revenue enhancements that will be needed to balance the plan translate into tax increases on Kansans already hurting in the current recession.

“The reality is it is going to be more money out of the pockets of Kansans,” said state Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita.

But state Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, said the proposals being discussed are not tax increases.

What is under consideration is a tax amnesty program that is expected to bring in $35 million; delay on the phase-out of the corporate franchise tax; and a reduction in state tax credits. A plan to “decouple” the state’s income tax code from the federal stimulus tax breaks, which would affect mostly businesses, has been rejected by Republicans under pressure from the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.

Much of the Senate debate was taken up with a proposal by state Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, which would have instituted a 3.75 percent across-the-board cut. His plan would have required no tax adjustments, he said.

But opponents said the larger cut would have been too painful for agencies that have already been whacked once earlier in the session. And they said Gov. Mark Parkinson indicated he would veto such a level of cuts.

Masterson’s amendment failed to pass on a 16-22 vote.

The 2.75 percent cut that was approved would slice funding to public schools by about $83 million, and higher education, which has already been cut 7 percent, would sustain another $22 million hit. The measure would also stop a $25 million state payment to local governments that was scheduled for June.

With the Senate action, attention now turns to the Senate Tax Committee and the House.

Earlier in the day, the tax committee chairman, Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita, went to the hospital because of chest pains. He was expected to remain hospitalized overnight.

House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, directed the House budget-writing and tax committees “to produce a budget solution that garners broad support in our body.”


Wow21 9 years, 1 month ago

How much less would the cut be if Speaker O'Neal (and his buddies) stopped giving family members cushy jobs and $20k bonuses to their aides. At what point does this become ridiculous? He's a joke and so is the rest of the Legislature.

What a slap in the face to people of Kansas.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 1 month ago

The 2.75 percent cut that was approved would slice funding to public schools by approximately $83 million

Wonder what that is in $ per student. Local districts are having problems as it is. Oh well, everybody is in the same boat... I guess.

slowplay 9 years, 1 month ago

"Local districts are having problems as it is."...They have enough money for a new football field.

portstorm 9 years, 1 month ago

“Local districts are having problems as it is.”…They have enough money for a new football field.

Two new stadiums if I recall 8)... In a depression... brilliant. Oh wait my school property tax is darn near comparable to my city tax property so maybe we can just make them even and they can build a third mega stadium on some land Compton or the Hedges can't sell anymore. Who needs to worry about paying people to maintain them or anything, they'll just get a fancy bond that nobody know how it is backed.

notajayhawk 9 years, 1 month ago

Wow21 (Anonymous) says…

"How much less would the cut be if Speaker O'Neal (and his buddies) stopped giving family members cushy jobs and $20k bonuses to their aides. At what point does this become ridiculous? He's a joke and so is the rest of the Legislature.

Simple minds just can't understand big numbers - $20,000, $200,000,000, both are infathomable and therefore equal. (That's why Obama can get away with telling people $100 million in savings is 'a lot' when $8 billion in earmarks is miniscule.)

Tell ya' what - take that $20,000 bonus and split it up between the state's 476,366 students (I'm sure the 5 cents will make an amazing impact). Or maybe just split it up between the 1,432 schools (maybe they can each buy a book). Oh, let's put it where it would really do some good - split between the 304 public school districts, that's a whopping $65 each. That'll make a huge impact, you're right - no wonder our kids aren't learning anything, what with missing out on that nickel apiece (out of the over $7,000 we spend on each of them).

"What a slap in the face to people of Kansas."

If you're a typical example, they could use one.

Wow21 9 years, 1 month ago

You're right notajayhawk those bonuses don't matter they're perfectly legitimate and probably wouldn't mean anything to any of the state employees who are facing a pay cut or furlough. Here's a number for you: 42,000...that's the number of state employees who are facing a furlough or pay cut. Think they believe a $20,000 bonus to a legislative staffer is chump change. Here's another....$6 billion...that's the amount of tax breaks given by a Republican controlled Legislature over the last 10+ years. Think that money would help out right now? Is that number big enough for you?

But by all means, let's blow these bonuses off as nothing to get worked up about. Business as usual, huh buddy?

Your post is typical of an angry Republican that cannot face the fact that your party ran the country into the ground for the last eight years and wants to stomp around and scream that Obama is ruining our country when all he's trying to do is fix the steaming pile the joke of an administration left him.

Have a good night, Rush. Enjoy the next 4 years, I know I will laughing at people like you.

tunahelper 9 years, 1 month ago

oneal is more concerned about the KU Championship trophy that is sitting in his office than working on a budget. what a rocket scientist.

notajayhawk 9 years, 1 month ago

Wow21 (Anonymous) says…

"Here's a number for you: 42,000…that's the number of state employees who are facing a furlough or pay cut. Think they believe a $20,000 bonus to a legislative staffer is chump change."

Like I said before - go ahead and split it up, if that's what you want. That penny per week per employee might be extravagant, but hey, what the heck, you're worth - well - every penny.

"Your post is typical of an angry Republican that cannot face the fact that your party ran the country into the ground for the last eight years and wants to stomp around and scream that Obama is ruining our country when all he's trying to do is fix the steaming pile the joke of an administration left him."

Gee, 'wow,' chill, buddy, you're gonna' burst something. Let me give you a little insight here, guy - one of us sounds angry. It isn't me.

As I've pointed out - twice now - taking that 'bonus' back and throwing it back into the SGF would have a completely negligible effect on state employees - or education, or whatever else you want to complain about. You could take it and split it between all the state employees and, after a year's time, they wouldn't be able to buy an extra cup of coffee. Split it between the school kids and it wouldn't bet them a piece of gum. You're just whining that while things are tough, somebody else is doing okay, and that's just not fair. The difference between you and me, wowwie? I can worry about my own financial problems without b____ing about someone else making more.

So what the O'dude is doing makes sense to you, right? $8 billion is chicken feed if it's pork projects, $100 million is a big deal in budget cuts? He's just fixing the mess left by his predecessor? So, acolyte, tell me - how does spending a trillion dollars we don't have reduce the deficit?

As someone standing there with his hand out begging, I guess you would approve of the way Obama is "trying to ... fix" the mess.

As far as whether that money from the past ten years' tax cuts would have come in handy, 'wow,' maybe if you could understand the big numbers you're trying to throw around, you'd realize that state revenues actually increased by almost $4 billion (from $8.8B to $12.6B) during that time period when taxes were cut by $6 billion. Imagine that.

"I know I will laughing at people like you."

And maybe when you stop, you'll understand why folks have been laughing at you for a very long time.

But I doubt it.

Wow21 9 years, 1 month ago

You're right, I'm wrong. I apologize. I agree we should allow legislators to pay staffers bonuses at the same time as the scream we need to cut, cut, cut. I agree that delaying tax cuts to businesses won't provide additional revenue to the state that would help our immediate budget crisis (the Governor's wrong on that one too, but it's clear to me that you're smarter than everyone else so I'm sure he'd agree too). I also agree Obama is the root of all the problems in the economy. He's turned what was a finely tuned machine into a trainwreck in just over 100 days, how will we ever survive 3+ more years with him?

I apologize sincerely for ever questioning the policies and practices of any of our current or past esteemed leaders on either the state or federal level. It's clear they know/knew exactly what they were doing. Right?

Robert Rauktis 9 years, 1 month ago

But we got what matters...the new football stadiums!

notajayhawk 9 years, 1 month ago

Gee, wowwie, must be nice to have such a simplistic attitude. Especially when you just make everything up. Perhaps you could point out where I said everything was just fine before Obama took office? I believe I said spending a trillion dollars we don't have doesn't exactly help a deficit. As to whether the governor's got the one true right answer, you're saying his one opinion is somehow automatically better than that of the majority of the legislature? (Oops - forgot - he's a Democrat, so it must be.)

As I mentioned, wowwie, state revenues have increased by almost 50% in the time period you moaned about tax cuts - as have expenditures. It's not a matter of the poor school districts having to make due with less, it's a matter of priorities (as the comments about ballfields points out).

Maybe I'm not as smart as your Demogogic - oops, sorry, Democratic - icons, maybe I can take lessons from the likes of you - let's see, how does it go: "Spend, spend, spend, as long as I'M the one getting handouts." There, that pretty much sum up your learned opinion?

getreal 9 years, 1 month ago

Here is what these cuts translate into for real kids.

$4,597 per pupil is what kids should receive next year under the court ruling and new school finance plan. This is what was promised to schools and schools planned to receive.

$4,384 is what kids are receiving under the plan passed by the Senate yesterday.

$4,188 is what the House Appropriations Committee approved and will take to the full House today for a vote.

Kids stand to lose anywhere between $200 and over $400 dollars under these plans. To Lawrence kids that equates to anywhere between 2 and 4 million dollars.

These losses translate to job loss, larger class sizes, elimination of programs, and ultimately to a workforce less prepared to lead our state.

We can pay now for a quality education or we can pay much more later when no business wants to locate in a state that has not prepared its workforce.

Mike O'Neal should worry more about the obligations to Kansas kids than securing his wife a job and lining the pocket of his Chief of Staff and other GOP staffers.

LowDown 9 years, 1 month ago

Okay, explain why every taxpayer in the State of Kansas should pay for a kid's education? The parents had the kids, the parents are the ones who get the annual tax deduction for the kids, so why is it the other single people's responsibility to pay for your kid to get an education? This funding of schools is nothing more than a form of socialism and entitlements. The parents should be the individuals responsible for kicking in the money to put their kid through school, not someone who made a concious decision to not have kids. To top it off, then the school districts spend the tax payers money to hire lobbyists and lawyers to ask for even more money. Save your pennies and pay for an education, not a lobbyist or attorney. This action was taking away from your little precious children so hold the districts that hired these people accountable, not those who never have had a kid that used a public scholl in the state. Your districts are the ones who are squandering your tax dollar with the high administrative salaries, the teachers getting paid the wages they get (sure wish I had that kind of time off each year with pay), and always wanting the new and greatest of everything out there. New buildings, football stadiums, where do these improve the quality of an education. Turn your focus to the people in the districts for answers, don't point a finger, It isn't someone else's fault, it's the people who elect the school board that approves the salaries. I say, cut the administration's pay, pay the treachers for only the hours that they actually work and not the spring break, the Thanksgiving break, the Christmas break, the inservice days, and the summer. If you aren't working, you aren't drawing a pay check, it's only fair. Teachers are a huge drain on society and feel that they need more. Why?? They've got one of the best gigs going with all the time off they get. Show me another job with this kind of time off, I'm looking to get paid to work while I'm sitting at home so maybe there are more opportunities out there than I thought. It's another form of welfare people, open your eyes. PARENTS... kick in the money, pay for your own kid's education and quit trying to suckle the fat cow.

avoice 9 years, 1 month ago

While LowDown misses the obvious point that I'm sure every NEA member will rush to point out here, there is a large dose of common sense in the above post.

First, let's put the obvious on the table. Our entire community/state/country DOES benefit greatly from having an appropriately educated workforce. Even if you have no children, you benefit from having neighbors in your community who are well-educated and can provide services to you.

If we were to put together a real business plan that addresses the real goal of the entire country, we would prioritize the education of the best and the brightest. We would have an educational model similar to other Western countries and most Asian countries, in which there is a hierarchy of education (schools) that place citizens in the appropriate educational tracks, so education can be highly productive and cost effective. The problem with our current educational system is that we're spending the majority of our resources (time, skills, AND money) on trying to educate the uneducable and those who simply couldn't care less about participating in their own educations. While we pour money down this pie-in-the-sky drain on the premise that browbeating kids into being educated somehow is the equivalent of obtaining an educated workforce, other countries have figured out that you must put the majority of the resources into providing the best opportunities possible for the most highly educable students. Those would be not just the top in intelligence, but the top in ambition.

The part where LowDown is really making sense, though, is the part about parents paying for their children's educations. We have a country full of great athletes. Why? Because families prioritize sports and pay for private sports programs starting at preschool and continuing on through high school or even college. Suppose that families were to invest those same dollars in academic programs (some do, actually). Imagine how much better academics would be nationwide!

What we need today is a public education system based on ability to pay. If a family cannot afford to educate their children, the government will provide, at no charge, a first-class education. Families that can afford to pay would pay on a sliding scale upwards, depending on income. No more free rides for people who can very well afford to pay for their children's educations. The result would be: more schools with smaller student/teacher ratios; students learning according to their abilities and needs; teachers focused on a smaller number of students -- and, if students are appropriately "tracked," a group that all have similar abilities and needs. Also, parents would feel more involved in the school and would be more inclined to participate in the process, given the fact that they are directly paying for it.

LowDown 9 years, 1 month ago

While I agree with you on some points I fail to fully understand how an educated person can be a good neighbor and provide services to me. Are they going to cut my lawn, trim my trees and bushes, paint my house, or pick up after my pets? These tasks are where an education isn't required to have the ability to perform them. An educated neighbor, from personal experience is usually more critical of those who may be less educated, and fail to have the same beliefs, values or morals as they. I can't off hand think of one point that an educated neighbor has been an asset to a neighborhood other than historically being able to afford to live there and maintain a hopefully attractive home. Many are not even compelled to keep their homes and lawns up to community standards. I don't know if this is due to arrogance or as mentioned earlier, morals and values. An education does not make you an automatic good neighbor. These people are not going to help with your personal manual tasks, nor become involved in a person's personal turmoils such as lack of money for basic needs or to pay a car payment. (Continued)

LowDown 9 years, 1 month ago

Educated as wll as uneducated people are mainly focused on self preservation and self reliance, as it should be. People as a whole don't concern themselves with the personal problems of others. Why should I care if the neighbor's wife is cheating on the husband or their child is smoking dope? Is it my problem, or even my place to point these things out to them? I think not since it doesn't have an impact on my existance or personal well being. Once it were to affect me personally than yes, it becomes an issue for me to become involved in. Most people are not the social butterfly and know everything about their neighbors and definitely not about a neighbor's personal lives. Most people for a good quick example who live in an apartment complex would likely not be able to name 15 other people who live there. In a neighborhood, I've never been able to name more than 5-6 families who lived nearby and ususally this wasn't due to location but due to other interests that we had in common. I may occasionally become close to 1 or 2 families but not to the point that I would consider myself able or justified to delve into their personal lives. Coincidently though, some of these "neighbors" were not educated people and were much more down to earth and outgoing than those that felt they were superior either by education, job, or social/political status. I am all for a pay if you're able education system though. This would allow for the schools to hire individuals or groups to support and further their cause and existance. The free ride would be only for those who currently don't have a way of providing for their family. Even most destitude people can afford something although it may be little to try and better their children. If this were the system I would further propose a caviot that the income tax deduction be provided to the education of the child instead of a family vacation or a "keep up with the Jone's" purchase. Will we ever realize these things in our society, probably not. (Continued)

LowDown 9 years, 1 month ago

Everyone seems to walk around thinking solely of themselves with their hand out. Cut the other person's pay but don't touch mine, I'm more important! Look at the big picture people, everyone has issues and problems in their lives, your are of no concern to anyone else so why should you be singled out for protection? Everyone needs to slow down and take a deep breath and think before they act. If the State of Kansas were to cut employee pay by 5%, this would impact all of us in loss of services, and delays in funding payments too. These people are the ones who cut the checks for the schools. If they aren't at work or are paid 5% less, how quick will they be to send the check to your sacred cow program that was all over the news outlets as trying to defer the cuts to someone else? I wouldn't want to have that person responsible for sending my pay check. Errors happen and I might not get what is coming to me first time around so you'll have to spend more time finding out why and then someday, you just might get all of your money. See the big picture here and take off those blinders people! There's a whole great big world out there and if you were to drop dead today....the world isn't going to stop turning and the place you work isn't going to fall apart. No one or no program is as special as to expect that the loss of them or their program will alter the course of society.

avoice 9 years, 1 month ago


I meant neighbors in the broader context, not specifically the guy who lives next door to you. Everyone in your community is your "neighbor." Do you have a doctor? A lawyer? A car mechanic? Ever been to a physical therapist, chiropractor, dentist? Ever need a plumber or an exterminator? You benefit from these people's educations every day.

earline james 9 years, 1 month ago

I have no children, but I'm sure I'm going to need a doctor one day. I'd like one with an education. And not one of those "home schooled" ones. That's too scary to imagine.

Sharon Aikins 9 years, 1 month ago

What they fail to mention here are the cuts to the disabled. Many of these people are unable to work. Even if they are employed, it is usually at minimum salary wages. The cut to them and to their caregivers is greatly affected by this package as well. Most of these people are receiving SSI but still, with salaries, live well below the poverty level. Do we become Hitleresque and wipe them all out? Do we throw them out onto the streets?

I pay for everyone's children to be educated as everyone paid for mine to be. I don't mind it. I don't mind helping the disabled through my tax dollars. I don't mind helping under or uninsured children. There are just some areas that are too sensitive to take big or even small cuts. Not everyone could afford to pay for their children's educations. Do we let those kids go without? Sometimes the line in the sand has to have a few twists and turns in it.

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