Archive for Sunday, December 14, 2014

Brownback: It’s up to Legislature to cut budget

December 14, 2014


— Kansas lawmakers were told this week that Gov. Sam Brownback's plan to fill a $279 million budget gap in the current fiscal year only pushes the state's budget problem down the road, making next year's funding gap even worse.

That's because most of what Brownback proposed does not involve actual cuts in state spending, but instead transfers $201 million from other funds into the state general fund.

But in an interview with the Journal-World this week, Brownback defended his plan and said the Legislature needs to be involved in deciding where to make actual spending cuts.

"I want these things to come through the legislative branch because that's constitutionally the way they're supposed to," Brownback said. "We're in the situation we are, and I dealt with it, but I wanted to do it in as minimally intrusive of a fashion as possible."

Brownback spoke during his annual round of end-of-year interviews that governors traditionally grant the Statehouse press corps.

The budget gaps are the result of the latest consensus revenue estimates released last month. Largely because of the sweeping tax cuts enacted in 2012 and 2013, the Legislature's non-partisan Research Department said there would be a $279 million shortfall in the current fiscal year that would need to be filled with either spending cuts or revenue growth.

After that, researchers said there would be another $436 million budget gap in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

But in the budget plan Brownback announced this week, he only identified $78.5 million in actual cuts, some of which still have to be approved by the Legislature. The largest of those, $40.7 million, would be a reduction in the state's contributions into the financially troubled Kansas Public Employees Retirement System.

State Treasurer Ron Estes, a Republican who servers on the KPERS Board of Trustees, criticized the reduction in pension payments, saying the pension fund currently has a $9.8 billion unfunded liability — the difference between its assets and the obligations it has already incurred for current retirees and active employees.

“While I understand the need to re-balance the budget in light of unexpected shortfalls, the decision to delay state contributions to our underfunded pension system is disappointing,” Estes said.

And Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, also said she was disappointed because much of what Brownback proposed still has to be approved by the Legislature.

“I would have preferred to see the burden spread evenly throughout the state. That would certainly be a more fair approach than picking winners or losers and asking the legislature to fill the gap," Wagle said.

But Brownback said he thought it was his duty to fund as much as possible of the budget that the Legislature passed. And he said if the Legislature wants to reduce the size of state government, it's up to them to pass a budget that does that.

"That's the way these things are supposed to happen," he said.

When lawmakers convene Jan. 12, Brownback said, he will outline an "aggressive" two-year budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. But he offered few details about what that proposal will look like.

"We will deal with our situation. We will make proposals to deal with where we are and what we need to do as a state to move forward to address our budget issues," he said.


Kate Rogge 3 years ago

Brownback’s Tax Cuts Not Set in Stone as Kansas Faces Budget Shortfall 12/15/14

"Dave Trabert, the president of the conservative Kansas Policy Institute, said the governor had merely scratched the surface of reducing government spending. “No, we don’t need more revenue,” Mr. Trabert said. “There needs to be a very detailed analysis done on every agency and every function to look at how we can bring down the cost of government.”

Governor Brownback may say that it's up to the state legislators "to reduce the size of state government, it's up to them to pass a budget that does that. That's the way these things are supposed to happen," he said. But legislation actually comes from the likes of Dave Trabert, Kansas Policy Institute, ALEC, and whatever else crawls out from under a rock intent on destroying our state.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years ago

And if they don't vote the way Brownback wants, they will be targeted in the next election primaries. We've seen that already.

Brock Masters 3 years ago

The budget problem isn't funny but it is funny watching Brownback through the legislature under the bus. Brownback is right, it is their job to fix the budget problem and they are the ones that created albeit at Brownback's urging.

Trabert used to come on here and argue that it was untrue that services would be cut and that there was a budget problem. He used facts and figures to support his position but now the curtain has been pulled away and Dave and is emperor are wearing no clothes.

Larry Sturm 3 years ago

Now Brownback is not taking the blame for the budget shortfall and is passing the buck to the legislature.

Phillip Chappuie 3 years ago

That s so rich the way Brownback denies any knowledge of a budget problem and then turns around and says it is the legislatures job to allocate. Sure Sam. But then get this, Wagle comes along and : “I would have preferred to see the burden spread evenly throughout the state. That would certainly be a more fair approach than picking winners or losers and asking the legislature to fill the gap," Now Sue, that's what we have been saying about the taxing policy you guys passed, not who would be reduced in the budget.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years ago

This was Brownback's plan all along. When they gave the huge tax cuts, Brownback said this was the legislation that was sent to him, like he had nothing to do with it. Now that it's failing, he'll throw the blame on the legislature. That way when he tries to run for president again, he can claim he had nothing to do with it. But we'll make sure the rest of the country knows that this was all him.

Brock Masters 3 years ago

Even Jeb Bush looks good when compared to Brownback for President.

I did hear that Carter is hoping for a Brownback presidency so he can finally be rid of the worst president moniker.

John Sickels 3 years ago

So much for "personal responsibility." It is NEVER Brownback's fault. Always someone else to blame. the legislature.

Still waiting on the craven coward Dave Trabert to show up and defend all this.

Julie Jacob 3 years ago

Seriously, BB is cutting the STATE’S KPERS contributions again? This is how KPERS got into the mess it’s in right now with the unfunded liability. AND, the local employers still have to pay their share and balance their own budgets.

James Howlette 3 years ago

They have to pay even more of their own share thanks to the "fix" he put in place last time. But don't you worry. He'll use this as an excuse to convert it to a crappy 401k that they'll still dip into whenever they're a little short on cash.

Richard Heckler 3 years ago

A budget that is short on revenue has some explaining to do as to why AMC Theatre received $43,000,000 million tax dollars? Under what authority was this corporate welfare issued?

And the $9 million to the Marr's operation?

I'm sure the list is longer .......

Tracy Rogers 3 years ago

Dave's busy drawing up legislation before the session gets started.

Brian Hall 3 years ago

This "it's not my job" diatribe doesn't work for me nor should it work for anyone. You are the Republican governor in a Republican-controlled state and the de facto leader of the Kansas GOP--you ran for governor to show you can be an effective leader so why aren't you an effective leader?

John Sickels 3 years ago

Never forget: the goal of Sam Brownback and Dave Trabert is the dismantling of state government by any means necessary, to enrich their wealthy donors at the expense of the general public good. The plan all along was to force these stupid tax cuts, blow the budget, then dismantle the government and turn everything over to privatization because "there is no money."

When Sam Brownback and Dave Trabert talk of liberty and freedom, they mean liberty and freedom for the strong and powerful to dominate the weak and helpless. They mean liberty and freedom for the Koch Brothers to poison the air and water. They mean liberty and freedom for fundamentalist churches to dominate the education system at the expense of science and reason.

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