Topeka The state Supreme Court on Thursday refused to block budget-balancing cuts that have left Kansans with disabilities on waiting lists for services.
Gov. Mark Parkinson agreed with the court ruling but said he will work to try to restore some of the money that’s been cut. The funding reductions, he said, have had had a devastating impact.
Parents of Kansans with disabilities and service providers filed a lawsuit last month asking the high court to stop $10 million in cuts and a 10 percent cut in the Medicaid rate paid to caregivers. The funding reductions, made to balance the state’s budget, have left thousands of people on waiting lists for in-home and community-based services.
The petition said the cuts violated state and federal laws that require the funding. The Kansas Constitution allows groups and individuals to directly petition the state Supreme Court if they are trying to force an official or agency to fulfill a legal responsibility.
But the court indicated it lacked jurisdiction to grant a declaratory judgment because the action wasn’t filed first in a lower court.
Chief Justice Robert Davis said, “Finally, our review of the petition persuades us that this court’s resolution of this matter would at least be hampered and would possibly be impeded by the absence of a factual record developed in the district court.”
Tom Laing, executive director of InterHab Inc., which represents social service providers, said plaintiffs in the lawsuit are considering what to do next.
The Kansas Legislature returns April 28 for the wrap-up session to write a state budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. Legislators are facing an estimated $450 million revenue shortfall.
Parkinson has proposed a tax increase and says his top priority is to restore the cuts made from the 10 percent Medicaid reduction.
“I stay awake thinking” about those cuts, he said.