Proposed state budget that would have cut education further lacks support

? A proposed budget that would have cut deeper into education didn’t get off the ground on Wednesday.

House Republican leaders backed off debating the measure after it appeared there wasn’t a majority to support it.

The bill, approved on Tuesday by Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee, would have cut public schools by approximately $150 million and higher education by $40 million.

Combined with other cuts, the legislation was a response to the $328 million budget deficit as lawmakers completed the eighth day of their wrap-up session.

But Kansas Board of Regents Chairwoman Donna Shank described the measure as “the most damaging budget proposal yet to surface.”

The Kansas Association of School Boards issued a release that said the proposal “makes the deepest cut in education funding so far.”

The organization added: “Further education cuts will weaken the state’s greatest economic development asset: a strong education system and highly educated work force.”

The KASB said the House committee proposal was worse than one approved Tuesday by the full Senate that would reduce public school funding by 2.75 percent.

Shank added that the House committee proposal would cause long-term damage to colleges.

House Democratic Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence said there may be a move today in the House to simply adopt the lesser cut in the Senate budget plan.

“We have to talk with the moderate Republicans and see where they are at on that,” he said.

Meanwhile, it appeared Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, has backed off his proposal to “decouple” state tax breaks as part of federal tax breaks under the stimulus plan. The move would increase state revenue by $78 million, but Republicans have roundly rejected the idea.