More bad revenue news for Kansas

MoneyTOPEKA – Lawmakers could be faced with cutting more than $100 million from the state’s current budget when they return to Topeka in January, the House budget committee heard Monday.

That assumes there are no further revenue drops, the governor does not order more cuts and state agencies do not request additional money to cover their budget needs.

The latter is unlikely. Alan Conroy, director of legislative research, told the House Appropriations Committee that the state Education Department already had a request of about $91 million additional funds, due in part to more students using free or reduced lunches and an influx in students.

Revenue news was not good in September, which reflected taxes from back to school shopping, money from the federal “Cash for Clunkers Program” and the first quarter of estimated income taxes, Conroy said.

Taxes came in about $67 million below estimated revenues, he said.

“Bottom line the news is not good, we are down about 5 percent overall and it is almost all in individual income taxes,” he said. Read More »

Governor cuts K-12, higher ed and more to fill $160 million shortfall

TOPEKA – The governor on Thursday used $90 million in cuts to the state budget and various accounting maneuvers to fill a $160 million shortfall.

The move comes the day after fiscal year 2010 began and includes a 2 percent reduction to general state aid for kindergarten through 12th grade. Higher education also saw another 2 percent, or $15 million taken from its budget.

“There is no way to spin this that this is not going to create pain for them,” said Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat.

The state budget has already been cut three times since January, and this time departments who had watched their money disappear previously – such as the Department of Corrections – were left untouched.

While Parkinson’s moves eliminated a further $90.6 million, he leaned on more money coming from the federal government, delayed projects and other money sources to add $69.3 million back into the budget. The proposal does not include any tax increases or delay anticipated tax decreases.

Included in that portion of the proposal is:

  • $30 million in delayed road maintenance programs from the Department of Transportation

  • $2.8 million taken from the Health Care Stabilization Fund,

  • $4.15 million no longer needed to make Cessna bond payments.

The governor said he hoped the cuts would be enough to keep the budget in the black.

On Monday, Parkinson also said he plans to ask the State Finance Council to allow the state to borrow $700 million from its self to cover payments due in July.

Other cuts to the budget include:

  • 2 percent, or $641,512, reduction to Department of Health & Environment

  • 2 percent, or $132,477, cut to the School for the Blind

  • 2 percent, or $196,395, cut to the School for the Deaf

  • Eliminating $50,000 in grants for the Arts Commission.

Parkinson also gave his office, the lieutenant governor’s office and the Attorney General’s office 2 percent cuts totaling almost $250,000. He also asked Legislative Agencies, which include research, post audit and the Legislature to cut $540,000.

For more, read Friday’s Wichita Eagle.

Legislature’s wrap up session starts

TOPEKA – The Statehouse parking garage is full again, which means lawmakers are back in town.

The wrap up session starts today. Typically these mini sessions last only a handful of days. Legislators come back, tweak the budget and take a crack at overriding some vetoed bills.

This year is likely to be a little different. Facing a $328 million deficit, lawmakers are likely to use a combination of cuts to state programs and revenue enhancements to fill the gap.

That process is likely to be more contentious than adding money to key projects, which is typical in a good year.

Legislators are also likely to have at least two veto override attempts. One for a bill allowing the construction of two coal plants in Western Kansas and a second aimed at bolstering the state’s late-term abortion law.