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Government

Brownback’s Kansas Budget Plan Relies On Federal Health Insurance Funds

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Stephen Koranda
/
KPR/File photo
State Budget Director Shawn Sullivan announces adjustments to the state budget Thursday.

Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration has made $63 million in adjustments to the Kansas budget. The changes will boost the state savings account to help avoid a deficit next year. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, the largest change is in SCHIP, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The federal government is increasing its funding for the low-cost health insurance program, so Kansas is using that money to offset $17 million in state funding. Brownback’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, says moves like this save money without cutting services.

“We really tried to take the line here of trying to minimize, as much as possible, the impact this would have on Kansans,” Sullivan says.

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Sullivan says if they weren’t offsetting state dollars with the federal money, they could have instead expanded services under the program. Democratic state Sen. Anthony Hensley says that would have been a better use of the federal funding.

“What the governor’s proposed here is to balance the state budget on the backs of children and families that don’t have health insurance,” Hensley says.

Hensley believes these moves won’t fix the state’s budget issues.

When lawmakers were working on a final tax deal earlier this year, they included a spending reduction as a way to help attract votes from conservative Republicans. The legislation left responsibility for finding the savings in the $15.4 billion budget to the governor’s office.
 
Sullivan said the cuts could have been as high as $100 million dollars but were assumed to be around $50 million. As promised last week, there were no cuts to K-12, higher education, debt services or KPERS.
 
The GOP-led Legislature has set aside up to $3 million to hire a private contractor to help look into other efficiencies in the budget. 
 
With additional reporting from the Associated Press.