Archive for Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Brownback signs Kansas budget and orders $97 million in allotment cuts, slashing KU funding

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signs a budget bill that makes significant cuts to the highway fund, Medicaid and higher education, Wednesday, May 18, 2016.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signs a budget bill that makes significant cuts to the highway fund, Medicaid and higher education, Wednesday, May 18, 2016.

May 18, 2016, 4:33 p.m. Updated May 18, 2016, 5:51 p.m.


— Gov. Sam Brownback signed a budget bill into law Wednesday while at the same time ordering $97 million in allotment cuts, mostly through cuts to higher education and Medicaid funding.

Those cuts amount to an average 4 percent reduction for most state agencies, except K-12 education and public safety services.

But the governor accepted a proviso that lawmakers put into the budget that will force Kansas University and Kansas State University to shoulder a larger share of those cuts.

“Our economy continues to face challenges with declines in oil and gas production, agriculture and aviation, our three major industries,” Brownback said in a statement released to news outlets. “This budget recognizes those challenges while protecting K-12 education and public safety and finding government efficiencies that put more money back in the hands of working Kansans.”

For the Lawrence campus of KU, that means a $7 million cut from what had previously been approved for the upcoming fiscal year. K-State will take a $5.2 million cut. Those are both about 5.1 percent lower than what lawmakers had initially approved when they adopted a two-year budget during the 2015 legislative session.

The KU Medical Center was also targeted for a $3.7 million cut, bringing the total cut for the KU system to $10.7 million.

Brownback also ordered a 4 percent cut in state funding, or $7 million, for community colleges, technical schools and Board of Regents operations, bringing the total cut for the entire higher education system to $30.7 million

“We have advocated all year for stable funding for higher education,” KU spokesman Tim Caboni said. “Unfortunately, this $30.7 million allotment represents another cut to higher education and disproportionately affects KU and K-State, despite the tremendous role they play in growing the Kansas economy. Given the magnitude of the $10.7 million reduction to KU, we will need a few days to carefully analyze its effects, which will be significant.”

The Board of Regents issued a statement after the governor’s announcement, noting that with the cuts announced Wednesday, state funding for higher education will be $100 million, or 8.6 percent less, than it was in the 2007-2008 academic year, the last year before the onset of the Great Recession.

Those cuts were announced on the same day KU officials asked the Board of Regents to approve a 4 percent increase in tuition rates. It was unclear Wednesday afternoon whether Brownback’s cuts would affect that request.

The Regents said that given the additional state funding cuts announced Wednesday, more adjustments will need to be made to the tuition requests made by KU and other universities before the board votes to approve them next month.

Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley, of Topeka, said the higher education cuts “smack of political favoritism” because the language requiring KU and K-State to shoulder a larger share of the cuts was inserted at the request of Sen. Jacob LaTurner, R-Pittsburg, whose district includes Pittsburg State University.

“LaTurner and other Republicans are trying to protect their Regents institutions at the expense of KU and K-State, which as we know are represented by Democrats,” Hensley said.

Lawmakers assumed at the time they passed the budget bill that Brownback would need to find about $92 million in spending reductions, efficiencies or new revenues in order to leave the state with a positive balance at the end of the fiscal year.

But they also inserted a proviso shielding K-12 education from any of those cuts, knowing the adequacy of school funding is currently being litigated before the Kansas Supreme Court.

Brownback chose not to use his line-item veto authority on that proviso, and so focused most of the allotment cuts on the next two largest areas of state spending, higher education and Medicaid.

The Medicaid cuts will include a 4 percent reduction in reimbursement rates paid to doctors, clinics and other health care providers, but they will not apply to more than 90 hospitals designated as “critical access” facilities, which are smaller hospitals in rural areas that provide 24-hour emergency care services.

The Medicaid cuts also include a 4 percent reduction, or $7.2 million, in the profit margin of the three private insurance companies that operate the state’s managed care Medicaid program known as KanCare.

Budget Director Shawn Sullivan said the administration does not believe the lower reimbursement rates will result in Medicaid patients losing access to health care providers.

He said the three insurance companies will continue to maintain a network of providers that accept Medicaid payments so those patients will still have access to health care services within or near their communities.

Hensley, however, predicted the Medicaid cuts will cut off access to health care services for people enrolled in that program, which could put the state out of compliance with federal rules that say reimbursement rates have to be sufficient to give Medicaid patients reasonable access to services in or near their communities.

“The consequence of this will be that we’ll see a lawsuit which the state, no question in my mind, will lose,” he said.

Brownback did use his line-item veto authority to strike two other provisos lawmakers inserted into the budget.

One of those called for using about $16 million in tobacco settlement funds the state will receive next year to help repay, with interest, a $92.6 million payment into the state pension system that was delayed in April due to previous revenue shortfalls.

He also vetoed a proviso that would have required Medicaid patients seeking mental health treatment to undergo screening before they could be admitted to an inpatient psychiatric bed at a community hospital or residential treatment facility.

Sullivan said that provision could have violated federal regulations requiring equal treatment for mental health patients, and could have jeopardized federal Medicaid matching funds.

The governor accepted other provisos that prohibit him from taking action to privatize or outsource the operations of state mental hospitals in Osawatomie and Larned, or from contracting to demolish the Docking State Office Building, without full legislative approval.

Brownback noted the budget also provides increased funding in certain areas, including $5.6 million for the Osawatomie and Larned hospitals, mostly for pay increases for registered nurses and mental health technicians, and $1.1 million for the Department for Children and Families to fund pay increases for social workers.


Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 years ago

Of course he slashed KU. I mean he doesn't have a major bridge to shut down and hurt a community that votes against him, like Christie had in New Jersey.

Steve Jacob 2 years ago

Hey, the Republicans in Topeka threw up their hands and told him to fix the budget, and he did. The man does not care how hated he is. And Kansas has two more Brownback budgets to go before Kobach is governor in 2018 (just kidding, kind of)

Steve Jacob 2 years ago

...and it's not over, if Kansas has to pay the guy back $50M in taxes and the court overrules the K-12 budget, KU will get more cut.

Pete Kennamore 2 years ago

Koback governor! I just threw up a little in my mouth.

Chuck Holder 2 years ago

better in your mouth than what it did to my pants.

Al Silverman 2 years ago

Steve, don't laugh. I'll tell you who is laughing. The people of Kansas. Every single thing Brownback is doing (and every single thing Kobach will do) is exactly what the people of Kansas voted him in to do. 1. Stop all education. Education is the enemy of religion. 2. Stop all abortions, and all birth-control methods, including the pill, IUD's, and even condoms.. Kobach will be elected in a landslide. Kansas is more religious-intolerant than ISIS and the Taliban combined.

Betty Brown 2 years ago

Its remarkable how they tell us we will not feel it much in one breath and then tell us of new cuts, They are cuts. They hurt people. When will sll this end?

Greg Cooper 2 years ago

This is, in any place but Brownbackistan, unbelievable. Here it's just commonplace.

At what point is the impeachable offense of malfeasance reached?

Chuck Holder 2 years ago

I believe that will happen as soon as there are no more programs to cut. You would think that what 12 out of the past 13 months revenue has not met expectations would be enough to start some sort of proceedings, but not Kansans just keep hoping that next month it will be alright.

Hans Besemann 2 years ago

Isn't that what the GOP does? If this Benghazi committee doesn't get the results we want the next one will. If this Planned Parenthood committee doesn't get the results we want the next one will.

Tony Peterson 2 years ago

Another HUGE one yet to come. Once the Kansas Supreme Court comes out on June 1st with their ruling against the State on school financing Browncrack will have to slash even more before the start of the fiscal year on July 1.

Michael Kort 2 years ago

brownie is working hard and doing swell .

brownie has always been about putting Ks. government into the bath tub and drowning it in debt or lack of funds .

It is brownies intention to kill off state services .

Having to balance the budget shortfalls that he creates is his excuse for doing his favorite thing.......killing state government .

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 years ago

Well, cutting off all state services that don't make a profit for his greedy little buddies.

Robert Brock 2 years ago

Eventually, the population of Kansas will dwindle under a million people. Sad that Kansans are having to leave the state and locate to Oklahoma to find jobs.

Charles Wolfe 2 years ago

Or Missouri, or Colorado. Oklahoma is headed down the same road as Kansas. Koch-GOP is a cancer.

Ajax Martin 2 years ago

Unbelievable. You cannot run a government without taxes!

Chris Golledge 2 years ago

What the GOP seems to saying is that allowing a handful of transgender people to use the bathroom they identify with will wreck public education, but millions of dollars of cuts to funding will be just fine.

Oh, and the agriculture business is important, but not important enough allow cheap wind energy to replace the climate change causing coal plants.

Barb Gordon 2 years ago

Don't forget that babies are important, but not important enough to feed if one of their parents has been on welfare too long, even if it was years ago.

Michael Kaufman 2 years ago

What is he going to cut next month when taxes fail to meet expectations AGAIN? This guy just won't give up. Until he is the only guy being paid in the entire state because there isn't any money to pay or do anything, or anyone else. The voters of Kansas must be a very tolerant bunch, as they haven't recalled his worthless A^^ yet. I guess they are just used to getting screwed, and now they don't want it to stop.

Aaron McGrogor 2 years ago

Whew. That double chin is almost big enough for it's own name.

James Houk 2 years ago

And there you go. He's following the same playbook that Jindal used to destroy my home state. Before he's done, higher education, as happened here in Louisiana, will be a sad shell of its former self. I could see this coming from a mile away. Kansas voters don't see what's happening here?

Amy Varoli Elliott 2 years ago

So let me get this right, because KU and K-State are "rich" schools they can afford to pay a little extra into the kitty so that the "poor" schools don't have to kill themselves and cut their already small budgets. But if we were talking about paying individual taxes we are to believe the opposite is true.

Kelly Ryan 2 years ago

At least there is basketball.

Thanks To Tax Cuts, Bill Self, Highest Paid State Employee, Owes Little In Kansas Income Taxes...

Carol Bowen 2 years ago

I have real issues with the exorbitant economy of college sports, but I have to say that it's not Bill Self's fault that he has this tax advantage. I've heard lots of "sole proprietors" at various income levels say that they have no intention of adding jobs to their LLCs. Some have even posted on the LJW blogs. The tax cut legislation was poorly conceived. If and when there is a possibiliy to modify or remove this legislation, it should be done. Governor is in the awkward position between admitting hie error or charging full speed ahead.

Maggie Morse 2 years ago

So I gather that Brownback's goal is to totally bury the state of Kansas! It looks like he is vying for 50th in list of states where people might actually want to live!

Maggie Morse 2 years ago

Has anyone questioned Brownback's mental competency?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 years ago

Actually, is not mentally incompetent, he is just evil. He pretends to be a good little Christian, but in fact he worships GREED. He is a puppet of those who think that if something isn't making a monetary profit, it's evil.

Richard Aronoff 2 years ago

I was wondering how long it would take you to play the Christianity card. It's really getting rather tiresome.

Greg Cooper 2 years ago

So is our state government. You don't think he has built a reputation among the anointed as a "Christian"? You can actually say out loud that he has not built his political agenda, at least publicly, around "Christian" values? Family structure, sexual agenda, that kind of thing?

If not, you have not been paying attention, like the majority of people who actually voted the last two rounds.

Kim Mandle 2 years ago

No. Getting too close to the man will give you warts...

Paul R Getto 2 years ago

Only a coward cuts each agency by a specific amount with no thought to priorities. Of course we already know this based on his past behaviors. Weep for Kansas.

Clara Westphal 2 years ago

Maybe Bill Self can help KU make up the difference instead of KU raising tuition - again.

Greg Cooper 2 years ago

No, Clara, in case you haven't noticed, he relies on people like you to bear the burden. Why do you not see that?

Jim Streich 2 years ago

How much can you take from the poor to give to the rich

please help a disabled veteran about to lose his home after his wife lost her battle to colon cancer and veteran son (bronze medal in Iraq) and between medical and funeral bills might lose everything he has left

Chuck Holder 2 years ago

He was voted in for another term, can't he be removed by the same people? Just think his name was mentioned as a possible candidate for the GOP. Maybe he still thinks his "experiment" was a good thing and trump will choose him as a running mate.

Deidrick Bennett 2 years ago

For Christ sake, HOW in the heck did a state full of smart people fall for this guy twice?! NOTHING did he promise came to fruition and he continues to run a state that was doing amazing things off a cliff. Can't you guys just recall him? Can't the GOP controlled House and Senate just start unwinding his disastrous tax polices. It's stupid to keep filling up the bathtub by carrying buckets of water from the kitchen sink. Just use the bathtub faucet. Jesus Kansas, I live in Arkansas and I feel sorry for you. Let that wash over you a sec.

Aaron McGrogor 2 years ago

Don't you have your own issues to bitch about? Or is Arkansas perfect?

Deidrick Bennett 2 years ago

Somewhere Piyush "Bobby" Jindal just signed and said, "Whatever you thought about how bad I was as a Governor (and believe me I was abysmal) at least I'm not that guy (Brownback).

Tim Kahn 2 years ago

so how high will the sales tax on the poor and working class go up before the remove the master of brownbackastan?the rich being supported by everyone else wont go on to much school for your kids no work no roads .how long ?

James Rayburn 2 years ago

It's hard for me to feel bad for Kansas when THEY elected this idiot knowing who he was. They wanted this guy to be their governor. What did Kansas think would happen when they elected this clown? Look who's talking... I live in NC with tax happy Pat McCrory... but he won't tax the wealthy... just the middle class and the poor.

Larry Tucker 2 years ago

Don't place all the blame on the incompetent Governor. The legislature left town without a balanced budget which violates the state constitution. Oh well, they don't have enough room in Lansing or Topeka to house the lawbreakers. It's time for new leadership in Topeka!! t

Renee Patrick 2 years ago

Sullivan has got to be kidding. So, those who receive Medicaid benefits will still get critical care access, which may or may not include any specialty care. So if that is needed and they have to obtain services outside their medical home, they can search for an independent practitioner who may or may not take any more Medicaid clients. Most practitioners outside rural critical access units cap percentage of Medicaid clients so they can make a living. This also doesn't promote preventative care very well. Just my opinion.

Larry Sturm 2 years ago

What a sleaze Brownback is when you see a picture of him he is just staring into space.

Paul Beyer 2 years ago

Just another clue that he's clueless and has no idea of what's going on in Kansas. But his "god" told him nothing he has done will stop the sun from shining in Kansas.

Richard Heckler 2 years ago

Why do Kansas Republicans Vote for Anti American ALEC Right Wing Politicians Which Have NEVER Supported Republican Values or Fiscal Management?

What did Brownback bring to Kansas? Why are Kansas Legislators SPINELESS?

--- Still A Bad Idea –The Conservative ENTITLEMENT Package for the wealtiest 1% and is still producing a dysfunctional economy.



Richard Heckler 2 years ago

Kansas JOBS Level Worst Since 2014

Kansas going broke is the ALEC platform with Brownback as the administrator.

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