Archive for Thursday, May 12, 2011

Brownback: $14B budget deal ‘victory for Kansas’

May 12, 2011


— Kansas legislative negotiators agreed Wednesday night on a $14 billion budget for the state’s 2012 fiscal year, one that will cut overall spending between 5 percent and 6 percent.

The spending plan that emerged from talks between the two chambers heads first to the Senate for approval, then to the House.

Public schools would take the biggest hit during the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. But almost every state agency would see some spending cuts to erase a budget shortfall that once was as large as $500 million.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who met with negotiators throughout the week’s talks, issued a statement noting that the deficit was closed without raising taxes, which wasn’t the case last year.

“It cuts spending while prioritizing core functions of government and sets the stage for a return to private sector growth,” Brownback said. “It’s a victory for Kansas.”

Much of the total reductions in the 2012 budget, between $770 million and $870 million, will reflect the disappearance of federal economic stimulus funds.

Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairwoman Carolyn McGinn said the cuts will be felt in social services and education, but that the changes may encourage efficiencies in government.

“We tried very hard to figure out what the priorities are for the citizens of Kansas,” said McGinn, a Sedgwick Republican. “I think it could wake up a whole new population of citizens because the services are no longer there.”

Legislators can’t end their session until they’ve passed a budget, likely on Friday evening at the earliest. Wednesday was their 89th day in session, out of 90 scheduled. Leaders predicted the bill would pass, though House Speaker Mike O’Neal said it may be only Republicans support it in his chamber.

“There will be people who vote no because there are too many cuts. There will be those because there aren’t enough,” said O’Neal, a Hutchinson Republican. “What this bill is for is the middle. I think that’s the majority of the caucus.”

Republicans control both chambers, with a 32-8 edge in the Senate and 92-33 margin in the House.

Senate Vice President John Vratil said the spending plan reflects a fundamental change compared to how budgets had been written in recent years.

“We have altered the structure of our budget by making significant cuts in spending,” said Vratil, a Leawood Republican and part of the chamber’s negotiating team. “It’s not funny money or accounting tricks. It’s real cuts of real money.”

A key issue was the House’s demand that the next budget leave cash reserves of $50 million when the fiscal year concluded at the end of June 2012. House Republican leaders saw it as a hedge against future bad times, while senators were willing to sacrifice the cushion to lessen spending cuts.

Some of the last issues to be resolved were judicial branch funding, a shortfall in special education funding to satisfy federal requirements and funding for the state’s KAN-Ed program that provides high-speed, broadband Internet access to more than 400 schools, colleges, libraries and hospitals.

The state’s 289 school districts would see their general state aid cut by $232 per pupil, or 5.8 percent, the figure Republican Gov. Sam Brownback had proposed, dropping it from $4,012 to $3,780.

The budget plan also will authorize $34 million in new bonds for an ongoing renovation of the Statehouse, bringing its total projected cost to $319 million. The additional funds will allow workers to replacing aging copper in the roof and dome and finish work on the north wing, where construction has started.

The budget also preserves an $11 million state operating grant to Washburn University of Topeka, which the House had sought to cut in half, and $5 million to subsidize airline service in south-central Kansas.

Also under the budget, the Kansas Neurological Institute, the state’s hospital for the developmentally disabled in Topeka, would remain open. Brownback had proposed closing it by mid-2013.

It also contains two items that Brownback is expected to remove, using his power to veto individual budget provisions. The first provides $1.5 million in operating grants to public broadcasting stations and the second keeps the Kansas Arts Commission alive by giving it $689,000.

Brownback has proposed eliminating both to save the state money. The Arts Commission would be replaced by a non-government foundation, relying heavily on private donations to finance arts programs.


Richard Heckler 7 years ago

“It cuts spending while prioritizing core functions of government and sets the stage for a return to private sector growth,” Brownback said.

More RINO political rhetoric from Washington D.C.

He forgot to be specific?

situveux1 7 years ago

Legislators should have absolutely no air conditioning or heating so they get in, get it done, and get the hell back home before they do some real damage. That renovation project is an absolute joke. Another $34 million down a hole never to be seen again.

Phillbert 7 years ago

Kansans who won: + Kochs + Statehouse contractors

Kansans who lost: - School children - Kansans with disabilities - Seniors - Anyone living in rural areas - Everyone else

gudpoynt 7 years ago



I love it when my governor gets a personal victory for him and people like him, and then claim it's a victory for me, indeed all of "Kansas", when it most decidedly is not

Charlie Bannister 7 years ago

Overall a successful session. Cut spending and did not raise taxes. Federal folks could take a lesson from us on this. As far as eliminating funding for the Arts Commission, that is something government should not be involved in. Get the funding from private sources. It can be done. Have a blessed day everyone.

gudpoynt 7 years ago

if the government should not be involved in the arts, then all 50 states and the federal government (not to mention most every other country in the world) has been doing it wrong for a very long time.

Good thing Kansas is finally ready to set precedent here and be a beacon in correcting this centuries old folly. Let's see who follows our lead.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

Yea, it's a "victory" alright-- in the race to the bottom.

mloburgio 7 years ago

Proving once again that if you want a Republican to care about you, remain a fetus.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years ago

Il Marrone declares victory! Do not question Il Marrone!

Won't be long before we're invading Ethiopia with the National Guard.

verity 7 years ago

I hear McDonalds is hiring.

But I can't afford to eat there anymore. Do they give a discount if you work there?

Alyosha 7 years ago

It might be your understanding, but is that understanding correct? What are your sources for such a claim?

bolshavik_vw 7 years ago

No it is a victory for Brownback and a loss for Kansas.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years ago

Well, at least it isn't about partisan politics. All must pledge allegiance to Il Marrone!

Alyosha 7 years ago

What does "core functions of government" mean, exactly?

Brownback seems to think that's a settled question, that it's there's an agreed upon definition.

There's not. The core function of government is whatever the democratically elected representatives of the people say it is, in the context of the constitution.

The core function of government, to me, is "promote the general welfare."

TheStonesSuck 7 years ago

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

gudpoynt 7 years ago

yes, other people's money goes toward the general welfare.

Congratulations on this conceptual breakthrough.

It's a quintessential part of understanding what a social contract is.

Jimo 7 years ago

If by Kansas you mean the Koch Bros., maybe so.

William Weissbeck 7 years ago

$3,780 per pupil. Anyone think that even comes close to covering the tuition cost at a private grade or high school? And if not, what makes you think it provides for an adequate public education? And further, I guess it's now become acceptable dogma that the average worker, both private and public sector, shouldn't expect a pay raise anymore. They work purely at the pleasure of their employer.

gudpoynt 7 years ago

A victory for private industry, a loss for public education.

Below are 3 groups.

A) People who WILL benefit from continued tax breaks for private businesses, but NOT be hurt by cuts to public education.

B) People who WILL benefit from continued tax breaks for private business, AND be hurt by cuts to public education.

C) People who will NOT benefit from continued tax breaks for private business, but WILL be hurt by cuts to public education.

Pop-quiz: 1) To which group do you belong? 2) To which group does Brownback belong? 3) Which do you think most accurately describes "Kansas" as a whole?

Jan Rolls 7 years ago

Where's the first job you have created gov? We are all still looking for it. Your nose is growing everyday.

notanota 7 years ago

He did split his budget director and secretary of administration into two jobs, so he could hire two of his buddies to do half the work of the predecesor for full time pay. That totally makes up for all the teachers and other jobs he destroyed, right?

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