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Kansas House Committee Advances Budget-Balancing Plan

Stephen Koranda
KPR/File photo

A Kansas House committee has advanced a spending bill that would balance the budget for the current fiscal year without making cuts to education. The House Appropriations Committee voted for a proposal similar to Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan, which would dissolve a state investment fund to close a more than $300 million budget gap.

Republican committee chairman Troy Waymaster calls it “the best of the bad options.” He says the alternative is cutting state services and education, which would be hard to absorb.

“Coming back in with five, four months remaining in the fiscal year, it does pose a financial problem,” Waymaster says.

Some members raised concerns about taking money from the investment fund, which is supposed to be paid back over several years. Democrat Henry Helgerson says the state shouldn't borrow money to pay its bills and he fears the money won't be paid back.

The investment pool holds idle funds as a way to earn interest for the state on money that isn't being used.

The Kansas Senate considered cutting education by around $150 million to help balance the budget, but that plan faltered last week.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Radio covering health, education and politics.