Archive for Monday, March 25, 2013

Editorial: Budget blunders

March 25, 2013


As the state budget winds its way through the Kansas Legislature, legislators are proposing cuts that defy both logic and any sense of fair play.

Here are a few examples:

• After placing a high priority and committing state funds to the Kansas University Medical Center’s successful quest to be designated as a National Cancer Center, AND after charging KUMC with increasing the number of doctors and nurses it graduates, the Kansas House has passed a budget that cuts the medical center’s budget by 4 percent or about $4.2 million. The 4 percent is an across-the-board cut for all state universities, which legislators maintain should be able to handle the budget reductions without increasing tuition.

• In an effort to reduce the budget to operate state prisons, legislators are looking at a proposal that would give judges and probation officers more options in dealing with people who violate their probation or parole. A proposed law would establish a series of “graduated sanctions,” such as county jail time, that could be ordered before sending a violator to an overcrowded state prison.

A few years ago, the Kansas Department of Corrections operated nationally recognized programs to reduce “recidivism,” the return of paroled inmates to prison. Funds were cut, and those programs went away. Rather than spending money to help prisoners make it on the outside, the state is back to spending money — or having local counties spend money — to deal with increased probation and parole violations. It doesn’t seem like progress.

• Legislators were looking at diverting $383 million over the next two years from Kansas Department of Transportation highway projects to fund other expenses, but, at least for now, the House-approved budget doesn’t include those funds. Has the state finally learned how hard it is to catch up on highway and other transportation expenses when repairs and projects are delayed? Maybe, but the budget isn’t done yet.

• In the “fairness” category, let’s look at the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. In recent years, KDWP officials have heeded the state’s instruction to make their operation less dependent on state funds by taking such steps as raising the age at which a Kansas resident can obtain a free hunting or fishing license. Starting Jan. 1, 2013, the age for a free license rose to 75, instead of 65.

Now, state legislators, looking for money in every corner, have found $500,000 in the KDWP’s cabin rental fund and decided they want to sweep that money into the state’s general fund to be used for nonpark expenses. Park officials say the cabin fund was at an unusually high level awaiting spring maintenance projects. KDWP was making an honest effort to try to deal with millions of dollars in state budget cuts in recent years, and when it manages to put aside $500,000 for maintenance projects, legislators decide they have better uses for that money.

The income tax cuts approved by the Legislature last year and further tax cuts proposed by both legislators and the governor this year have put lawmakers in a tough financial spot — a spot that could encourage some imprudent and penny-wise-pound-foolish decisions that could hurt the state for years to come.


Kookamooka 4 years, 1 month ago

Congrats Kansas. You elected a bunch of incompetent legislators.

UneasyRider 4 years, 1 month ago

That is what happens when you let the Koch's run the state by buying up the legislators and especially the governor. A governor who is determined to make Kansas worse than AL, MS, TX and AR combined. Even MO and OK are started to look better than what the ignorant GOP'ers keep voting for here.

Paul R Getto 4 years, 1 month ago

31% Sam. Will people actually vote this time?

donco6 4 years, 1 month ago

A free hunting pass for 75-year-olds! Wow, super. Maybe that one guy in the state who is still hunting at 75 will have a good time.

true_patriot 4 years, 1 month ago

We truly have children minding the store. I can't fathom who elected the radicals that allowed this power shift or what they possibly could have been thinking (or not thinking).

olddognewtrix 4 years, 1 month ago

To paraphrase H.L.Menckin--"Boobis Kansiensis" best describes the Kansas/Brownback GOP

Robert Schehrer 4 years, 1 month ago

Taking money from highway funds is a hidden way for Kansas to borrow money for its general operating fund, since the Highway Fund issues bonds to pay for most of their highway projects. So much for the so called idea that Kansas doesn't allow deficit spending.

hedshrinker 4 years, 1 month ago

lots of outrage, but unless we can vote out these radicals in the GOP primaries, we will be stuck with this mess and the really unthinkable consequences for decades. That's where the Koch's, etc most fully exerted their $$$ power, supporting radical right candidates, knowing that few voters show up for primaries in which the candidates who will stand for election are chosen, and if the candidate gets to the general election with (R) after their name, many voters will go for them without looking at any other criterion. Please, people, exert your rights and vote at every opportunity. Those who want to line their pockets and solidify their power have too easy a path if we are not going to the polls to speak our minds. Yes, it is an uphill battle against $$$ and power, but change CAN happen.

Paul R Getto 4 years, 1 month ago

The Kochs and others have the money. The people have the votes. Will they actually use them? 31% Sam hopes you won't.

buffalo63 4 years, 1 month ago

Again, why does Brownbeck want to combine KDOT and the KTA? Surely not because of KTA money pot?

BigDog 4 years, 1 month ago

Paul R. Getto ..... what are you basing your 31% upon?

jafs 4 years, 1 month ago

My guess is the turnout, and the percentage of those who turned out that voted for BB.

About 1/2 of eligible voters stayed home, and about 2/3 of those who voted voted for him. That means about 1/3 of eligible voters voted for BB (2/3 of 1/2=1/3).

Paul R Getto 4 years, 1 month ago

Sam was elected by 31% of those eligible to vote in our great state. Last time I checked, his approval rating was just a few points better. I used to call him Muscular Sam in honor of the C-Street cult's muscular jesusperson Sam uses to justify his legislative proposals.

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