Topeka Gov. Mark Parkinson on Thursday urged Kansas’ U.S. senators to vote for an extension of increased federal Medicaid funding.
“Without this assistance, our budget will no longer be balanced, causing more damage to the services we have already cut to the bone and stalling Kansas’ economic recovery,” Parkinson said.
Under the proposal, Kansas would gain $130 million. Parkinson said the funding has already been built into the current state budget to keep it in balance.
A $130 million hole in the budget could result in losses in other areas of the budget such as 4,000 teaching jobs, he said.
U.S. Sens. Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts, both Republicans, have voted against the increased federal funding in the past. Despite their opposition, the extension of increased funding has already passed twice in the House and once in the Senate, but has yet to be reconciled by both chambers, so the measure is again under consideration in the Senate.
Parkinson met with Roberts and Brownback earlier this week when Parkinson went to Washington, D.C., for a meeting of the Governor’s Military Council.
Republicans have been opposed to the increased spending, saying it will add to the national debt. Medicaid is the federal and state funded program that provides health care to the poor. It assists nearly 300,000 Kansans.
Roberts indicated he was still opposed to the additional funding.
“The governor and I agree that Medicaid funding is vital to Kansas, but we must be able to pay for it without going further into debt,” Roberts said. “I consistently hear from Kansans who want the federal government to reduce, not increase the federal debt, and to spend less, not more of their tax dollars.”
Brownback’s office did not respond to questions from the Lawrence Journal-World on the issue.