What’s striking about Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposed spending is how nearly identical it is to the spending outlook that former Gov. Mark Parkinson’s budget office released last November. The total general-fund expenditures for this fiscal year are only about $1 million less in Brownback’s plan than in Parkinson’s estimate. And next fiscal year, Brownback is proposing a $346 million increase in general-fund spending — about $23 million more than what Parkinson’s staff said could be available. The general-fund spending increase is needed to help offset the loss of federal stimulus money — though groups such as Americans for Prosperity paid for mailers and advertisements during the past election asking incredulously: “Who would vote to increase spending by $200 million?”
Some of Brownback’s specific spending recommendations are no doubt different from what Parkinson might have proposed, such as for K-12 education. But the reason that the total general-fund spending is the same is that Brownback wisely changed his mind about holding general-fund spending flat and also about not transferring money from the highway fund and casino receipts. And after he was elected and realized how bad the budget was, Brownback also decided that the state needed the money from the sales-tax increase and that he didn’t want it repealed.
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