Topeka A battle in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday threatened to put a $130 million hole into the delicately balanced Kansas state budget.
The Senate failed to muster enough votes to consider extending the increased federal matching rate for funding Medicaid, the program that provides health care to needy Kansans.
Gov. Mark Parkinson, who signed into law a state budget that relies on $130 million of the additional federal funding, said he was disappointed in the Senate action.
“This inaction in Washington has dire consequences to everyday Kansans and stalls our economic recovery,” Parkinson said. “Without this federal assistance, our balanced state budget will be in jeopardy, potentially resulting in more layoffs and cuts to critical services, like education.”
Parkinson, a Democrat, has urged Kansas’ U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback, both Republicans, to support the funding.
But Roberts and Brownback have declined, citing concerns about the growing national debt.
In a statement last week, Brownback said, “With our debt out of control, we need to be fiscally responsible. I will support (the increased Medicaid funding) extension as long as it’s offset and paid for, which can easily be done by the White House and congressional Democrats by using existing stimulus funds.”
Brownback is the leading Republican candidate for governor. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Holland, a state senator from Baldwin City, criticized Brownback’s stand on the issue.
“Brownback didn’t ask for budget offsets when he was voting for record spending, new debt and billions in earmarks. But now when it comes to caring for vulnerable and elderly Kansans, and stabilizing our economy, he suddenly has a list of demands,” Holland said.
Parkinson said he held out hope that the package before the Senate wasn’t dead yet, saying, “I will continue to work on this issue moving forward.”