Archive for Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wrap it up

Balancing the state budget won’t get any easier, so lawmakers might as well accept the necessary compromises and get the job done.

April 28, 2010


It used to be called the “veto session” because most of the Kansas Legislature’s work was complete and the only reason lawmakers came back to Topeka was to consider possible overrides to gubernatorial vetoes.

It’s come to be known as the “wrap-up session,” which seems particularly appropriate this year considering how many budget matters legislators still have to wrap up — about $500 million worth.

There have been many reminders in recent weeks of the real-life impacts of the current budget crisis. A story in Saturday’s Journal-World noted that, even though the demand for nurses is strong and getting stronger, Kansas University will be accepting 19 percent fewer students for next year’s nursing class than it accepted two years ago. At their meeting Monday night, Lawrence school board members agreed not to renew the contracts of 44 teachers next year in response to reduced funding for the district.

On Tuesday, a statewide coalition urged legislators to prevent further cuts to schools, public safety and social services. Funding reductions have swelled the number of people with disabilities who are waiting for services and reduced personnel at prisons to levels that representatives say could affect public safety.

Knowing the needs are great, however, hasn’t produced a consensus in Topeka about how to deal with the problem. Gov. Mark Parkinson threw down the gauntlet Monday by promising to veto any budget that included more cuts. Undaunted, House leaders presented a revised budget that requires no tax increase but cuts education, social services and state employee pay — in addition to sliding about $86 million of tax increases for schools on to local property taxpayers. Senate budget negotiators say a tax increase is needed but haven’t been able to approve any increases.

Did we mention this wasn’t going to be easy?

Either legislators will have to come up with a plan Parkinson can accept or produce a budget that has the support of two-thirds of both House and Senate members so it can overcome the governor’s veto. It seems like an unattainable goal right now, but it will happen; it always does.

Sooner or later, legislators and the governor are going to have to meet in the middle. The sooner they do, the less money Kansas taxpayers will have to spend on the legislative session. Lawmakers and the governor need to apply themselves to the task at hand, accept that compromise is required, and complete their budget work as quickly as possible.


Paul R Getto 8 years ago

Good points: A review of the Three Jewels is in order: Compassion, humility and moderation. Finding the first two may be difficult given the poison in the air, but the third, moderation, is in order as we look for a combination of taxes and budget cuts to begin moving out of this mess. The real solution, should they have the courage, is to elimate all the property and sales tax exceptions at once, then let people line up again to plead their case as to why they don't have to pay taxes. Putting everyone back in the boat would allow the rates to be lowered, and generate more income for needed services. Details on these issues, should facts be of interest, are at:

Bob Burton 8 years ago

Sorry Paul,


The state has to live with in it's means just like the rest of us..

bruno2 8 years ago

Not "new taxes" South, reinstating taxes that were cut in a frenzy of gift giving by elephants to their rich buddies when times were good. Should have never happened. Even states need to save for a rainy day. Reinstate the cuts from the last 10 years and the problem goes away...

Kirk Larson 8 years ago

That's always funny when people say "Gov't should live within its' means like a household or a business" when most businesses rely on credit to make payroll and most households have a mortgage or lots of credit card debt.

notajayhawk 8 years ago

So does the state, who routinely transfers money from one account to another to cover shortfalls. And just like the rest of us, it all has to be paid back.

Paul R Getto 8 years ago

swk: "The state has to live with in (sic) it's (sic) means just like the rest of us.. " === You could be right, and the people will get what they ask for/vote for. Eliminating tax dodges could be considered 'new' taxes, or it could be seen as getting everyone into the boat. Those of us who still pay property tax (10% or so) may deserve what we get, but we are carrying the load for the state while 90% stay off the books. Your point is a popular one; we'll see how it pans out in the next few weeks.

Bob Burton 8 years ago


If a business uses credit to make payrole, I will show you a business that will not be around long..

Kirk Larson 7 years, 12 months ago

Then you weren't paying attention during the financial meltdown. Lot's of businesses use short term credit to make payroll while they are waiting for their stock to sell off the shelves and receive payment from customers. I was kind of surprised to learn it, myself. That was the cause of a lot of the layoffs when businesses couldn't get short term credit from failing banks. Hope you learned something.

Centerville 7 years, 12 months ago

It's so weird to live in a town that used to have some sense of self-worth and independence, and all I hear lately is a (completely irrational) yearning for centralized government..

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