Archive for Saturday, June 15, 2013

Brownback signs two-year budget, with exceptions

June 15, 2013, 12:56 p.m. Updated June 16, 2013, 12:12 a.m.


Republican Gov. Sam Brownback on Saturday showed his frustration with part of the state budget passed by the GOP-dominated Kansas Legislature by vetoing the entire Department of Corrections allotment for fiscal year 2015.

Brownback signed the bill containing a budget of more than $14 billion for each of the next two fiscal years, starting in July.

Although the governor used his power to veto multiple line items, most of the decisions made by lawmakers about spending will take effect.

He let stand cuts in higher educating spending, even though he’d opposed any reduction in state funding and went on statewide tour in April and May to build opposition to the idea. In a message to legislators, he called on them to work with the state Board of Regents to “craft a shared vision for higher education.”

Corrections department officials have worried that they’ll have to trim spending on community programs and lay off parole officers. The governor vetoed several line items that together trimmed almost $3 million in spending from the agency’s budget for the fiscal year 2014, which begins in July, and Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts said those actions “make the state safer.”

Brownback’s decision to veto the Department of Corrections’ budget for fiscal year 2015 — which contained more than $9 million in cuts — is mostly symbolic, because legislators will have an opportunity to draft another version next year. He approved most of the prison system’s budget for fiscal year 2014, which begins in July.

“The Department of Corrections plays a key role in maintaining our state’s public safety,” Brownback said. “Because I consider it inadequate, I veto the FY 2015 budget and look forward to working with the 2014 Legislature in finding the Department sufficient resources to ensure public safety is not imperiled.”

Brownback and Republican legislators made a point of fashioning two years’ worth of spending, saying it would promote stability and allow for greater planning. They also said it would open up time every other year to deeply examine some spending issues.

The overall budget would total $14.5 billion for fiscal year 2014, and about $14.2 billion for fiscal 2015, though the latter figure would include a revised budget for the Department of Corrections.

In a statement, House Speaker Ray Merrick, a Stilwell Republican, said he is “disappointed” by the governor’s decision to alter the budget approved by lawmakers.

“At the same time, we will continue to work with him and the Senate to address current concerns while examining ways to make state government more efficient,” he said.

Aside from a short, formal adjournment ceremony on Thursday, legislators have finished for the year. They still have an opportunity to override Brownback’s veto with a two-thirds majority, but such an effort doesn’t appear likely.

Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley criticized Brownback for “the most irresponsible budget in years.” Democrats contend Brownback and other Republicans want to hold down spending to phase out personal income taxes. Lawmakers approved cuts in income tax rates this year and last year.

“Sam Brownback has signed a budget that will result in cutting jobs essential to our state institutions, raising tuition on our students and jeopardizing the public safety of our citizens,” Hensley said.

Brownback also vetoed two budget items that Attorney General Derek Schmidt, another Republican, had urged him to strike. One would have diverted $600,000 from licensing fees for concealed carry permits to fund general government programs and the other would have placed a salary cap on state agencies, including the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

On higher education, Brownback had limited options because the cuts weren’t separated from the budgets for the Board of Regents and state universities. Legislators cut spending on public universities by 1.5 percent each of the next two years; community and technical colleges will have their spending cut 1.5 percent in fiscal 2015.

But some regents have said the cuts are deeper than they appear because lawmakers also reduced the state funds available for salaries. Brownback said legislators need to work with the regents, who oversee the higher education system, to maintain “our high standard of excellence” while using state dollars efficiently.


Grégoire Guillaume 10 months ago

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toe 10 months ago

The cuts to education are peanuts. But, the real cuts will hit hard when healthcare funding crowds out education spending. This will occur in both private and public schools. When faced with education or healthcare, the taxpayer will choose healthcare. The troubles in education now will very soon be the good old days of tomorrow.


Richard Heckler 10 months ago

Let's not forget a recent demonstration of Sam ALEC Brownback frugal spending of our tax dollars. After having forked over $47 million to AMC.

Sam ALEC Brownback is off to Paris to represent Kansas at an air show. What exactly is he doing flying off to Paris? How much does he know about air shows? How much does he know about airplanes?

Perhaps some of his large campaign contributors will be at this air show which allows him to travel incognito as a Kansas rep as he pulls the wool over Kansas eyes.


question4u 10 months ago

Owner and CEO 1: Have you heard about what Kansas has been doing to promote business? Bravo! Like their governor says, it's a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart.

Owner and CEO 2: Yes, that's one business friendly state! So, you're thinking of relocating then?

Owner and CEO 1: Well, maybe, if Kansas gets that looming deficit cleared up and shows that cutting funding to higher education isn't going hurt the workforce. Oh, and after my kids have graduated. So maybe in five years we'll think about it. How about you?

Owner and CEO 2: Well, as you know, I don't care about quality of life issues, so the lack of support for the arts and less public recreational land than any other state in the country doesn't matter to me. I probably won't use state highways, so the cuts to those aren't important, but since we're a retail business I'm not sure how one of the highest sales tax rates in the nation would affect us. Maybe in five years or so, if other business relocate we might consider it. Of course, five years from now Kansas might be in really bad shape. Have you heard about that $400+ million court case that the state is about to lose over failing to fund K-12 education? I wouldn't want to have anything sunk into a business in Kansas if that hits the fan.

Owner and CEO 1: Yeah, you're right. We're doing the smart thing by waiting to see how this experiment comes out. But I'm sure it will be a shot of adrenaline to the heart of the Kansas economy, since there must be lots of businesses out there that are eager to start up in a state with an uncertain financial future so long as they can save on state income taxes in the short term.

Owner and CEO 2: Yeah, there must be.


Richard Heckler 10 months ago

The laugh of the century aka Supply Side Economics continues to cost citizens their jobs while greater spending takes place to Corporate Welfare aka tax dollar moochers. Notice this mooching takes place in Lawrence,Kansas and Topeka,Kansas.

Why do politicians believe it is smart economics to relieve the wealthiest of their tax dollar responsibilities? Portraying this welfare tool as improving our quality of life.


elliottaw 10 months ago

wasn't he just saying the other day he couldn't do line item veto's???


Thom 10 months ago

Just because its a little dramatic doesn't make it any less true.


JayhawkFan1985 10 months ago

Brownback and this legislature will be remembered as the worst things to happen to Kansas since the dust bowl and Great Depression. Knowing that doesn't doesn't help given the damage will have to be endured for decades. God help us all...


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