Daily Archives: Feb. 8, 2011

Kobach featured as House takes up bill to ban resident tuition for undocumented students

TOPEKA — Secretary of State Kris Kobach told a House committee today that letting undocumented students attend Kansas colleges on in-state tuition does them a disservice because they can’t legally stay and work after they graduate — and staying too long pushes them back 10 years from legal residency.

But in the audience at the hearing were two young women who did exactly what Kobach said they couldn’t do. Both graduated from state universities and became legal, working residents of the United States and Kansas.

The hearing at the Federal and State Affairs committee was on House Bill 2006. It would repeal a 2004 law that allows undocumented students to qualify for resident tuition to attend state universities, community colleges and trade schools, if they attended high school in Kansas for three years and earned a diploma or GED.

Today’s portion of the hearing was for repeal proponents to make their case. Wednesday, opponents will get their chance to argue against the change.

Read More »

Kansas House votes to cut spending on schools, pay for top officials

The Kansas House voted to reduce state spending on schools this school year and cut the pay of top state workers Tuesday.

The move would eliminate a deficit of $50 million in the current year budget and give lawmakers $37 million in surplus funds to begin addressing next year’s $500 million deficit. The proposal, HB 2014, now moves to the Senate, which is already working on its own version of the bill.

Lawmakers called the bill a spending freeze, though it would actually cut funds for schools by $75 per pupil this school year.

It would also cut the pay of top state workers by 7.5 percent for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends June 30. The governor, other elected officials, lawmakers, judges and any employee earning more than $100,000 per year would be affected.

Democrats tried to add funds back in for special education but were stymied by the Republican majority. The final vote on the bill was 81-40, with Democrats and a few Republicans voting no.

Supporters of the cuts argued the state has no alternative but rein in spending after years of declining state revenues.

“We are simply at a point where the chickens have come home to roost,” said Rep. Kasha Kelley, an Arkansas City Republican. “It is not pleasant… no one wants to cut any salaries. We need to right the ship. It is our obligation.”

Commissioners discuss budget direction for next few years

Sedgwick County commissioners are meeting this morning to discuss the county’s financial plan through 2016.

Spending and revenue are out of whack, county leaders say. Earlier, management set August 2012 as the deadline for “bending the curve,” or changing the way the county operates.

Commissioner Richard Ranzau said he wants to see the county reduce its deficit this year and not wait until next year to make changes.

Budget director David Miller told commissioners that “even with sizable growth, we’re still looking at serious fund balance deficits.”

Commissioners are discussing their spending priorities during a half-day retreat.

County manager William Buchanan stressed that although the county needs to take action to reverse the financial picture, it has time to do so in a thoughtful way.

“We need not panic,” Buchanan said.