Archive for Friday, May 29, 2009

Kansas schools to see delay in May payments, may also see delay in June

More cuts expected for 2010 budget

May 29, 2009, 10:18 a.m. Updated May 29, 2009, 5:42 p.m.


— Kansas has temporarily stopped income tax refunds and plans to delay payments to its public schools because of a revenue shortfall this month.

Preliminary figures Friday from the Department of Revenue said the state collected $103 million less in tax revenues than anticipated in May. The state appears headed toward a deficit of about $30 million when its 2009 fiscal year ends June 30.

Anticipating the shortfall, the department suspended income tax refunds Tuesday and expects 22,000 refunds, worth about $11 million, to be affected. Spokeswoman Freda Warfield said the department expects the refunds to be held up a few weeks.

State Budget Director Duane Goossen said the state is supposed to provide $130 million to school districts Monday, to finance their special education programs but will delay the payments for a few weeks. He said it also could delay an additional $52 million in education funding payments due later in June.

Lawrence schools Superintendent Randy Weseman said the delay in payments from the state will require the district to dip into its reserve funds to offset the $400,000 state payment it was expecting.

“There’s no immediate impact because we can cover that for the short term,” Weseman said.

Such actions are designed to buy officials time to find ways to reduce spending in state government. Gov. Mark Parkinson said Thursday night that he is likely to trim the $13 billion budget approved for fiscal 2010 to keep the state from running a deficit.

“Immediately, what we’re trying to do now is get out of fiscal year 2009 in a reasonable and prudent way,” Goossen said Friday.

School districts and other state agencies would likely have to endure further cuts in coming months. The Lawrence school board has already voted to cut hundreds of thousands of dollars from its budget, including eliminating bus service for students who live less than 2.5 miles from their schools.

“This isn’t the end of the cutting. In my mind, it’s just going to continue. The cutting will continue. The level will be determined by people who run the state,” Weseman said.

The state already has had three rounds of budget cuts this year, as the national economic slump has caused revenues to fall short of expectations. Last week, Parkinson signed a bill trimming $138 million from spending previously approved for fiscal 2010.

That budget had appeared to be balanced. But even if revenues met expectations, the state would be left with only $17,000 in cash reserves at the end of fiscal 2010, meaning no cushion if revenues dipped.

“There will be a lot of pressure on him to make allotments pretty quick,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Kevin Yoder, an Overland Park Republican. “The quicker he makes them, the easier it gets for state agencies and schools.”

Top Parkinson aides said cuts would occur after the new fiscal year starts in July. Parkinson also has promised to consult legislative leaders and other state officials.

But word that May’s revenue figures would look bad cast a pall over an already gloomy meeting Friday of the state’s top social services official with dozens of advocates for the needy.

Secretary Don Jordan outlined $44 million in cuts that the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services plans to make to stay within its fiscal 2010 budget.

The agency expects to to reduce foster care services, grants to community mental health centers and cash assistance to the disabled. It plans to eliminate some state aid to groups serving the developmentally disabled, and Jordan said the department is keeping 30 percent of its central office jobs and 14 percent of its state hospital positions open.

“We’ll probably be going deeper every other time we work on the budget in the near future,” he said. “I really do expect that this is not the end of the cuts.”

House Republican leaders on Friday criticized the 2010 budget Parkinson passed with support of Democrats and some moderate Republicans. House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, said the 2010 budget only allowed for an ending balance of $17,000 — a small cushion that already appears to be millions of dollars off the mark.

The speaker said he feared the shortfall would lead to future tax increase proposals.

“It is time for a return to sanity in state spending and an end to burdensome taxes on individuals and businesses,” O’Neal said.

The state also could face a lawsuit because it has failed to keep past promises to continue increasing aid to public schools. Schools have lost base state aid of $116 per pupil in this year’s budget cutting.

The state was forced to increase its aid dramatically after the Kansas Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that it had failed to fulfill its duty under the state constitution to finance an adequate education for every child.

Salina public schools Superintendent Rob Winter told The Salina Journal that officials from several school districts plan to meet in July to discuss what to do, mentioning new litigation as an option.

Mark Tallman, a lobbyist for the Kansas Association of School Boards, said most schools can deal with the delay in aid payments by tapping reserve funds. But he noted school boards meet in August to set next year’s budgets and can’t be sure now of how much state aid they’ll get.

As for temporarily suspending income tax refunds, the Department of Revenue also took that step for a few days in February when the state faced an earlier cash crunch.

The department already has paid about 960,000 refunds. Warfield said taxpayers affected by the latest suspension either filed their returns after the normal April 15 deadline, had mistakes on their returns, or faced questions from the department. She also said the department would continue processing returns ahead of resuming payments.


salad 8 years, 11 months ago

I bet there'll be some edu-crats who're late with their mortgage payments on their vacation homes in Boca Raton.....

volunteer 8 years, 11 months ago

With the Supremes ordering the force-feeding of tax dollars triple the rate of inflation for three consecutive years, it would seem wise Administrators and Boards would have a hefty reserve fund. Surely the didn't think the plush times would last forever.

And my understanding is that Lawrence elementary teachers still don't receive a thirty minute duty-free lunch. They should overthrow their bargaining representatives in favor of some who understand issues important to the elementary teachers (at least the ones I talk to.)

deskboy04 8 years, 11 months ago

Would they mind if I were late a few weeks paying my taxes?

Christina Hoffman 8 years, 11 months ago

Multi, they are already cutting back on children that need the help. we were told are special needs child would get full time preschool in the fall, as per the IEP states this last year. Now i am told they are cutting it to part time with Maybe an option for full time if they have it, because of the budget cuts. So I am told, and they didnt mention ongoing OT for the summer either.

Budgets_Smudgets 8 years, 11 months ago

As I said before: "Expect more cuts to be imposed Parkinson before next January, folks. It may not happen for a few months, but it will happen. He will have no choice."

The actions in this article are not cuts, but are moving the timing of transactions that get the Governor out of the need to make more cuts in the next four weeks (before June 30).

School districts (the vast majority) easily have ample cash balances for operations until the catch-up payments are made.

But after July 1 (the new state fiscal year), the Governor will be forced to adopt fairly quickly a number of reductions beyond what the legislature adopted. That will simply be the case.

Presumably, he will want to make these earlier (i.e. summer and fall) than later in the state fiscal year. But if state collections continue to run below estimates, as they continue to do, he may be required to do this more than once before the next legislative session.

sherlock 8 years, 11 months ago

Thats right, they did find money for the Athletic fields, by borrowing $10 million, and paying it back one million a year for ten years, with huge interest above that!
. What about priorities--that is USD 497 has the money to spend for sports, BUT does not have enough money to provide transportation for children that have to cross such busy corriders of Iowa and 23rd sts. Sure we know that the money from the state has to be spent the way they are told from the state. So we will have top notch sports fields at the high schools, and the lives of children could be in jeopardy for school attendance.

sherlock 8 years, 11 months ago

Sorry Black Bird with the big mouth, this IS NOT COOL or any other name that you want to call it. I am a lurker that is new to the area! Am doubtful if you know what facts are true or false anyway!

gontek 8 years, 11 months ago

This is a case of bad economy trickle down. The economy is bad, so the corporations say "cut back on training, conferences, travel" things that mean tax revenues for the state. Cut those jobs and move those people to the headquarters in Denver, St. Louis, or wherever, etc.

Let me know when the economy gets better my head will be buried in the sand until then.

jayhawks71 8 years, 11 months ago

Suspending income tax refunds? How ridiculous, they already get until August to send them out without paying you a lick of interest. I bet they will extend it even further. I recommend that folks review their withholding and get as close to zero owed/zero refunded as you can, then your money works for you and you don't have to wait as it is held hostage in Topeka.

Lori Nation 8 years, 11 months ago

Hope Lawrence plans to join Salina and others in possible litigation!!!

Commenting has been disabled for this item.