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Children’s Advocate Opposes Kansas Tobacco Settlement Proposal

Dave Ranney, Heartland Health Monitor

The head of a Kansas advocacy group opposes a plan to sell off part of a tobacco lawsuit settlement. The annual payments from the settlement fund children’s programs.

The proposal from Gov. Sam Brownback would sell off part of the payments in exchange for immediate cash to help the state fix a budget shortfall. Shannon Cotsoradis, with the group Kansas Action for Children, calls it a short-term solution.

“We’ll have an ongoing revenue problem and we will have essentially sold the future of Kansas children by robbing that fund and leaving it potentially with inadequate revenue to cover children’s programs in the future,” Cotsoradis says.

Credit Stephen Koranda / KPR
KPR/File photo
Budget director Shawn Sullivan talks to reporters Wednesday about the governor's three options to fill the state's budget deficit. He says a plan to sell off a tobacco settlement won't affect children's programs.

State Budget Director Shawn Sullivan says the governor's plan wouldn’t decrease current funding for children’s programs because it would only sell off part of the tobacco settlement.

“Hyperbole and fear-mongering about ending kids programs shouldn’t be one of the considerations. I’m not sure why certain advocates don’t trust the Legislature to place necessary priority on their programs if they’re worthy of continued funding,” Sullivan says.

The governor’s proposal would bring in about $150 million this year. This plan is just one of several proposals from the governor designed to address the state's budget deficit.

Stephen Koranda is the managing editor of the Kansas News Service, based at KCUR. He has nearly 20 years of experience in public media as a reporter and editor.