Archive for Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Kansas budget situation leads to late payments to schools, cuts to senior services

Payment delayed to schools again; senior services cut

January 5, 2010, 10:55 a.m. Updated January 5, 2010, 6:37 p.m.

Advertisement

The Kansas budget on Tuesday continued on a downward spiral with a delayed payment to school districts and cuts in senior services, even while the state expanded a health program for children.

The Kansas Department on Aging announced the suspension of four services in a federal-state program that is designed to keep low-income seniors in their own homes rather than go to nursing homes. The action will affect 550 elderly people.

“This was not an easy decision,” said Acting Secretary of Aging Martin Kennedy. “We know these are services that many Kansas seniors rely upon to stay in their homes. But we can’t continue to provide them and stay within our budget. However, we’ll continue to monitor expenditures and restore these services if conditions allow.”

The suspended services provide dental work and assistive technology support, which includes pieces of equipment, such as grab bars and bath benches, and home modifications, such as ramps. In addition, sleep cycle support was ended, which helps people who need assistance or observation overnight. The agency also stopped comprehensive support services, which provides a wide range of assistance, such as reading and addressing mail.

The reductions were implemented because of spending cuts that Gov. Mark Parkinson made in November to balance the state budget because tax revenues have fallen short of estimates. The state budget has undergone five rounds of cuts, and lawmakers still face a shortfall of about $300 million when the 2010 legislative session starts Monday.

Kennedy said that the services suspended are those most recently added to the program and that by cutting them the agency can continue basic assistance to approximately 5,400 seniors and avoid a waiting list. The service suspensions are expected to save about $2 million, $625,000 of which is state funds.

Ironically, as the elderly service suspensions take effect, the state is expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, a federal-state program that provides low-cost health coverage to uninsured children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.

Kansas lawmakers authorized the expansion in 2008, subject to additional federal funding becoming available — which occurred last year when Congress and President Barack Obama expanded SCHIP. Then the Kansas Legislature approved $1.2 million to cover the state’s share of the expansion.

School payment delayed again

Meanwhile, the state announced it would delay January’s payment of $200 million to public schools; the third straight month of delays.

State Budget Director Duane Goossen said the action is necessary so the state can pay its employees and other bills. Goossen said he hoped to make half the school payment by the end of the week, and the rest possibly by the end of the month.

State education officials estimated that nearly 100 of the state’s 295 school districts will be forced to handle cash-flow problems by dipping into accounts meant for other uses, a technical violation of the law.

The Lawrence school district, however, can handle the cash-flow problems, said Frank Harwood, chief operations officer for the Lawrence school district.

He said Douglas County provides property tax dollars before the January deadline and the district has built up a contingency fund in anticipation of state budget problems.

Rainy Day Fund proposed

In another development, Kansas voters could decide in November if state government should set aside money for a “Rainy Day Fund.”

The proposal was unveiled Tuesday by state Sens. John Vratil, R-Leawood, and Laura Kelly, D-Topeka. Parkinson also signed on board.

Vratil and Kelly argued that such a fund could help the state weather revenue decreases.

The proposal calls for the Legislature to set aside 1 percent of tax revenues any year that those revenues increase by 3 percent or more from the previous year.

Legislators would be unable to draw down on the fund unless state general fund revenues dropped below the previous year’s total. If that happened, a majority decision by the Legislature and governor could appropriate those funds. Should the “Rainy Day Fund” reach 7.5 percent of the total state general revenue fund budget, the set-asides could be suspended.

The proposal would amend the state constitution, which means it will require a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate to get on the November ballot for a decision by voters.

Comments

kugrad 5 years, 6 months ago

Keep in mind that the State has a $200+ surplus fund which they could EASILY use to pay schools on time. This is just the state being mean-spirited toward public schools.

Citizens are expected to pay their bills on time. They may have to dip into any savings they may have to do so. The State of KS should also pay its bills on time.

Jeanne Cunningham 5 years, 6 months ago

If they would automate and amortize property tax payments (as many insurance companies, etc. now do for premiums, etc.), they would have at least one steady, monthly cash flow. I know that not everyone would do it, but many would. I know I would.

How much of the backlog and shortage is due to those who have not yet paid any of this year's property taxes, opting instead to wait until it all falls due - and/or until they figure out where that money is coming from? For some, it would assist in their own money management. For many, it would be preferable to have that money going directly to the state in which we live rather than to some mortgage lender in an escrow account (from which the lender is no doubt earning interest...).

BaxterC 5 years, 6 months ago

Wow. The state is worse than my pothead cousin who can't pay his rent. At least he is only two months late!

Bobo Fleming 5 years, 6 months ago

Thanks Joan Finney. Until she was governor school districts collected their own taxes paid thru the county treasuer. Treasurer then distirbuted quarterly. Along comes Joan. All school taxes paid to state. Great until the state decides it needs the money for something else and ergo- we now have the problem.

ralphralph 5 years, 6 months ago

"AID PAYMENTS"?!?!?!? How does School Funding become "aid payments"? As I understand it, ALL school funding is required to pass through Topeka, but it is never anything except school funding. The State cannot be allowed to dip into these funds -- which are or should be essentially held in trust for the schools -- to pay other bills they have run up and which are or should be paid from the General Fund and not from the money collected and designated for education. I repeat, "school funds" are NOT "aid payments", they are school funds. Now, it appears they are misappropriated school funds.

finance 5 years, 6 months ago

Interesting comments; not the usual lambasting of schools, social services, and other safety nets needed in a civilized society. Typically I expect to see very neanderthal-like haranguing upon logging in, so the comments thus far give me hope that there are more than two or three sane people out there.

Just a couple of clarification points. First, I don't think Joan Finney can be blamed in quite the manner described earlier. School districts still direct their counties to levy property taxes for schools' authorized segregated fund accounting purposes, and county treasurers still distribute those funds directly to school districts according to a calendar distribution schedule. Those local monies never go to Topeka; rather, local property taxes are joined with state aid payments, the total of which equals each district's permissible budget. In sum, school districts receive (broadly speaking) three kinds of money: (a) local property taxes as just described--not from Topeka; (b) state aid payments as just described--yes, from Topeka; and (c) federal aid to categorical programs--from Congress via each state's department of education as flow-through.

Second and consequently, the state can't "steal" local monies in the way implied. The state can, however, tinker with the end product (local budget = Σ local property tax levy + state school aid) either through the state aid formula itself or through the backdoor via the legislative appropriations process. In the first case, the state school aid formula can be rebuilt to limit/ increase available funding for schools. In the second case, the aid formula can only distribute the monies the legislature makes available; consequently, underfunding schools can occur through insufficient state appropriations for public education because the aid formula adjusts (reduces) school aid formulaically to match the appropriations amount. And in times like these, rescissions to state school aid are occurring because the state isn't taking in tax collections fast enough to fund its appropriations obligations.

It's complicated, but it comes down to this: the state is morally culpable when it intentionally underfunds schools. But it cannot be blamed for misappropriating earmarked school funds to be used for some other purpose. The net result may be the same (less money for schools), but the technical truth is that underfunding is a product of insane desire to cut taxes, misalignment of basic values making schools less important than roads, tax shifting, economic development, etc (you name the villain). For my part, I blame the boom years of the 1990s and maybe Bill Graves for leading/following/stumbling after the mad dash to decimate the state tax base through mindless tax cuts and exemptions. I could continue, but hopefully I've given some insight into the picture--bottom line, restore the billion in tax cuts from the 1990s and abracadabra--no more problem!

tomatogrower 5 years, 6 months ago

Graves was the real problem. When we have surpluses they should be put away for a rainy day. That's what well run households do. If your life was booming moneywise, would you ask your employer to give you a cut in pay? No, you would, hopefully, pay off loans or save the money for retirement or economic rough times. Graves asked for a cut in pay, saying that would create more jobs and attract businesses. But where are these businesses? We have one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the country, but there has been no stampede of businesses moving to Kansas. When are people going to realize these tax cuts aren't trickling down. It's a failure. Give up this theory and move on. Quit kicking a dead horse.

finance 5 years, 6 months ago

Hmmm. Almost 9pm. Why aren't we hearing from the chorus of idiots chiming in that kindergartners and dementia patients should just grow up and get a job? Hmmm: speechless? Doubtful--there's always a plethora of misspelled words spilling out disconnectedly from uninformed mouths--but there's always cause for hope that silence might set in, no matter how fantastical that might seem.

kusp8 5 years, 6 months ago

Rainy day fund. Sounds like a really good idea. This seems to have benefited the Lawrence school system very well in this terrible economy.

jameshook51 5 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

ellingson06 5 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

purplesage 5 years, 6 months ago

Here's what is maddening: despite these kinds of situations, the renovations at the Capitol push on. Yes, I know the money is "allocated". When I can't meet my daily obligations, money I have allocated gets reallocated. Time for government to do the same. Remember the astro turf.

Michele Dillon 5 years, 6 months ago

I am directly involved in the budget cuts for the elderly, as I work in that field. They have tried to affect the least amount of seniors possible although even 1 is too much. Perhaps if any of you small business owners can hire more workers they can increase the tax revenue in this state which is why they have to do budget cuts.

Stuart Evans 5 years, 6 months ago

BaxterC (Anonymous) says… Wow. The state is worse than my pothead cousin who can't pay his rent. At least he is only two months late!


Is your pothead cousin always late because he smokes pot, or did he have a predisposition to being lazy?

Stuart Evans 5 years, 6 months ago

The real problem here is ignorance in the voting booth.

Matt Needham 5 years, 6 months ago

Last night we were told by Dr. Doll and school board members that the Lawrence School District contingency fund is down to 1 month's payroll, and they are still 4.4 million short on budget. Many teachers are going to be getting pink slips, and schools may be closed. It was also inferred by one of the board members that Lawrence schools are only open and operational right now because of federal stimulus funding which will run out in 2 years. He said something like "Without the federal stimulus we'd be turning out the lights in buildings all over town." I take that to mean as bad as it right now for public education prepare for the really tough times ahead.

It is baffling to me that the banks are "too big to fail" yet the education of American youth is completely expendable. Without superior education America is a has been. Was landing on the moon our peak? Where is the War On Ignorance?

Shardwurm 5 years, 6 months ago

Wow...funny thread. The 'problem' is the recession and a drop in revenues. The second problem is the education industry crippling the middle class through massive taxation (elementary and secondary) and insane tuition for public universities.

The bottom line there is educators have convinced the public through a long and arduous sales process that they are actually under-paid when in truth they're making way more than they should. The number one cost to any organization is labor - and in our case we're over-paying for under-performance.

Give raises to the good teachers and get rid of the bad ones. Too bad you can't do that with tenure and the union. So the tax burden grows and we are STILL ineffective at instructing our children.

More money won't solve our education problems. Dissolving the teacher's union and eliminating tenure will.

Godot 5 years, 6 months ago

University of Illinois faces furloughs:

Citing a "grim and worsening" financial picture, interim University of Illinois President Stanley Ikenberry said today furloughs cannot be avoided.

"I am hereby directing the chancellors, deans and other University administrators to join me in taking a total of ten furlough days -- or two days per month beginning in February and through the pay period ending on June 15, 2010," says the email to UI staff.

"Additionally, I am directing faculty members and academic professional staff to take a total of four furlough days, beginning in February and through the pay period ending on May 15, 2010, or essentially one day per month. A furlough is a temporary leave of absence without pay and this measure will contribute $17 million. Exceptions to furlough day policies are: employees whose annual base salaries are $30,000 or less; graduate assistants and fellows; employees with retirement agreements for retirement no later than August 15, 2010; and individuals paid 100% from grant or contract funds as of December 15, 2009. In the case of Civil Service staff, we will seek comparable cost reductions in accord with Civil Service rules and bargaining obligations."

http://news-gazette.com/news/local/2010/01/06/ui_employees_not_surprised_by_plan_for_furloughs

Godot 5 years, 6 months ago

From The Wall Street Examiner:

"Month to date tax receipts are now in for the entire month of December. They’re down 7.7% from December 2008, which is exactly the same rate of decline as November’s. "

http://wallstreetexaminer.com/2010/01/05/tax-receipts-down-means-treasury-supply-up-professional-edition/

Bob_Keeshan 5 years, 6 months ago

Anjum (Anonymous) says…

Reality has set in, our experiments in socialism are bankrupting the country.

Absolutely priceless.

I love it when people advocate for a return to the 1800's. Unfortunately, there was already public education even in the 1800's.

This post is truly advocacy for a return to the Europe of the 1600's, the one our blessed forefathers fled for the New World.

mmiller 5 years, 6 months ago

Sorry folks, this recession is far from over. The crippling budget cuts our states continue to grapple with will only deepen the economic rut this country is in. Don't kid yourself folks, 2010, at least economically, is going to be another ice cream cone in the dirt.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 6 months ago

The state needs more revenue, pure and simple.

End the tax exemptions that Kansas gives out like candy on Halloween, raise the upper income tax percentage, increase the sales tax, and sharply increase the tax on luxury items and unhealthy behavior (smoking).

Or...

Cut state services to the bone such as education, roads, senior services, services for the physically and mentally disabled, snow removal, highways, police, fire, emergency.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 6 months ago

It is true that educators should be harshly and thoroughly evaluated, and those not measuring up should be given the opportunity to do so or be fired.

However, this is not a panacea for education reform. Money will still be needed to compensate the best and the brightest for their efforts

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 6 months ago

How do we know that anjum wasn't referring to the police under the control of beloved sitcom actor Kelsey Grammer?

This would reduce anjum's error to one of not capitalizing a proper noun.

Also, given the paranoia of right wingers, I would not be surprised if the Grammer Police were considered the feared henchmen and foot soldiers of the Hollywood liberal elite coming to indoctrinate them.

Bob_Keeshan 5 years, 6 months ago

Anjum (Anonymous) says…

Our forefathers were homeschooled and so were there children. They fled England because the state/Anglican church had too much power.

Please, keep going.

Of the first 14 states in the Union, 7 of them specifically provided for public education in their constitutions.

I don't know what you consider a forefather, but the founders of our nation and our states certainly fit the bill in my book.

Our forefathers did not flee England to escape any form of government. The fled England to escape a specific form of government.

I'm guessing you have no idea what the term Taxation Without Representation really meant. I'll give you a hint - it wasn't a revolt against taxes.

Bob_Keeshan 5 years, 6 months ago

Anjum is officially my favorite poster ever.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 6 months ago

Hmmm...

A new right wing poster with a Dutch reference in his user name?

Methinks this is not the first time we have heard from Anjum.

avoice 5 years, 6 months ago

I've said it before. Others have, too. And I'll say it again: Stop giving out free public education to rich people who can afford to pay the bill for their children's educations. Establish a sliding scale payment system that provides 100% free education to low-income and poverty-level children, with payments required of families with higher incomes and with the rich folks having to foot the entire bill for their kiddies. As parents, our education bill might go up (or down) but as taxpayers we would only have to support the educations of those who cannot support it themselves. In this way, families will be more "invested" in how their children are faring in school. Schools will be more "indebted" directly to their patrons (i.e., the families of the children they are teaching). And the American public will be better able to provide a truly quality education to ALL of the children who need assistance in receiving that education, because we won't be wasting money on hand-outs to the wealthy.

finance 5 years, 6 months ago

Anjum (Anonymous) says…"Reality has set in, our experiments in socialism are bankrupting the country."

Anjum (Anonymous) says…"If I believe in the unfettered freedom and sovereignty of all American citizens I am a right winger? These values used to make one an American."

Bob_Keeshan (Anonymous) says…"Anjum is officially my favorite poster ever."

Anjum: You're not my favorite anything. And in response to your two "contributions" I just pasted into this message:

  1. Reality has indeed set in--clear evidence that evolution in Kansas really isn't a scientific certainty.

  2. Let's test your little unfettered freedom and sovereignty declaration. As supreme ruler of this socialist universe, I hereby free you and release you from your unwelcome and unneeded fetters, and you are henceforth FREE (no, REQUIRED) to provide your own roads, hospitals, water, sewer, police and fire protection, ad nauseum at your PERSONAL expense. What? You can't afford it? Well, the collective "us" have helped you afford it: at least until now when you apparently want all those things taken away. Here's the offer of a lifetime: I'll be happy to bring a shovel and help dig up and disconnect all the taxpayer-provided services that presently coddle you and keep you comfy. Oh, before I forget--you also are hereby FREED to provide your own national defense: undoubtedly you aren't fazed by that one, because we all know your freedom and intellect and self-sufficiency will get you through every day just fine. Roads, sewers, who needs 'em? After all, we got "grammer".

finance 5 years, 6 months ago

Anjum (Anonymous) says…"I am in favor of national defense just not empire building. Everything else can be privatized."

Anjum (Anonymous) says…“What has your dear leader done for the proletariat?"

Anjum (Anonymous) says…"Perhaps if people were taxed less they would have more time spend with and educate their own children."

Ooh, bad move, Anjum. Your first quote above voluntarily bans you from any publicly funded road and banishes you from use of public-funded sewers. Pretty miserable life, but--you asked for it--now enjoy it. Let's drop most of the subsequent tempting imagery at that point, though.

And your second comment--this is eerily Star Trek, or at least spacey And what leader would you be referring to--aka--take me to your leader? And why do you recognize the concept of "leader" in your little state of anarchy and self-sufficiency? Hasn't 'leader' been purged from your vocabulary? Could you be a bit earth-inhibited underneath your tea party hat?

And your third comment--horrifying thought that some of the outstanding spellers and grammarians participating in this web posting might actually take on the education of their own children. Better leave it to the professionals, if any of them are willing to do it any longer after planned government disintegration is complete. But then again, maybe those uppity educators will learn their true subservient place on earth and be glad to be allowed yet another day of breathing--now that's a thought bounded by uncertainty.

Hmmm. Is this game anything like "Simon Says?" That's definitely more fun than our new game "Anjum Says." But this is all fun, right? I think so.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 6 months ago

Finance: you forgot about the government-created internet, by which arumer, er... Anjum, is able to post his inane rants against government and education.

So basically, Anjum rejects a government role in anything but national defense. It is hilarious that he chooses the largest and one of the most successful exercises in socialism in the USA, the military.

In his logically untenable postion, Anjum accepts socialism. He just has very specific ideas about what should be socialized.

Reminds me of the old saying "You have already established that you are a prostitute. We are now just haggling over price".

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 6 months ago

The proletariat revolution in 16th century Holland will not be live-streamed.

finance 5 years, 6 months ago

Ain't this hilarious fun? Great indoor sport. The focus on concealed carry in America really isn't about guns...it's about the ability to proudly carry mindlessness in a breathing carcass, where society presumes (falsely) that there's a brain hidden somewhere in the dark recesses of each and every individual. Now there's a fallacy of supreme proportions: I ask, how does democracy work so well when nonsense and drivel are so rampant? See? There really is a God, and miracles truly never cease. Actually, I attribute the "miracle" to the massive weighting of silent moderateness among voters, while the media headlines scream as if there is no more middle-of-the-road: that there are only foaming extremists bent on stoking the fires of hell. Remember, in the scheme of all things (absent pure evil), moderation eventually rules by swinging the pendulum to the middle despite all efforts against...Again, great indoor fun. No, I'm not a socialist. No, I'm not a right-wing haranguer. No, I'm not a dribbling leftist. Anjum, I'm an American with a brain--and a heart.

MyName 5 years, 6 months ago

$5 says we've found another incarnation of Arminius here. Anjum, the once and future troller returns??

Oh and even if you aren't that particular poster with a warped view of History, one would have to wonder how someone thinks this state has been "captured by socialists" when it's been Republican since its founding and ran by Conservatives or Right leaning moderates for 40 years or more.

I guess actual history isn't as interesting as the narrative in your head, huh?

finance 5 years, 6 months ago

And so, in the enchanted Land of Oz, the tremulous voices of a few humane "radicals" dare to rise in weak, yet courageous, chorus against--well, go ahead and say it-- those hordes of "right-wing maniacs" that populate our 105 counties. Oh, gnashing of teeth and brimstone! The hysterical wailing of the anti-tax throng is suddenly somehow threatened by one, no two, ohmigod, three or more social deviants who dare speak up in trembling, yet defiant voices in support of the feared collective "state" (aka, human race). Could it be an evil heresy is at hand? Could it be that a decade or more of strenuous effort by the political right to roll back time to--okay, I'll say it, Weird Al's famous 1799--is in danger at the hand of these outlandish heretics? What will the world (as definitionally bounded by Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Missouri) become without the promise of return to public stonings and crucifixions and stake-burnings and other rightful purgings of intellectualism? Live in fear, you tax-loving radicals. Come mid-January, the anti-tax people will crush you into your rightful worm-like place and force kindergartners and dementia patients to just grow up and get jobs. Okay, that was the happy dream of an anti-tax zealot. Sorry to burst your bubble, we (the tax-loving freaks) aren't going anywhere--yes, we vote. :)

Commenting has been disabled for this item.