Topeka Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget cuts will hurt public schools and low-paid state employees, representatives of those groups said.
On Friday, Brownback ordered $56.5 million in cuts after fellow Republican budget negotiators in the Legislature couldn’t reach an agreement on how to balance the state budget for the remaining part of the fiscal year, which ends June 30.
Brownback said the cuts were needed to bring the budget into balance by the end of the fiscal year as required by law. “These are certainly difficult times and difficult choices must be made. We must return fiscal sanity to government,” he said.
The Legislature faces a deeper shortfall for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1, of nearly $500 million.
Of that $56.5 million in cuts, Brownback sliced schools by $50.2 million.
“Making public schools great for every child is not on this governor’s agenda,” said Blake West, president of the Kansas National Education Association.
Referring to Brownback’s Roadmap for Kansas, which the governor proposed during his campaign, West said, “It seems Gov. Brownback’s `Roadmap for Education’ is an unpaved path taking our students back to the 19th century.”
Jane Carter, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, criticized Brownback for cutting $1.3 million from state employees who were found through a state study to be severely underpaid and were given a market adjustment.
“It is disappointing that everyone who received a market adjustment for this current fiscal year 2011 back on July 1, 2010, will get a pay cut from their already inadequate paychecks,” Carter said. “This move is clearly an assault on state employees and an indication that our budget shortfalls will be passed off on to the public servants of the state,” she said.