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Lawmakers Look At Possible Cuts To Balance The Kansas Budget

Stephen Koranda
KPR/File photo
The House chambers at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka.

Kansas lawmakers are working to fill a $350 million budget hole in the current fiscal year that ends in June.

Members of a House committee wanted to know what it would take to erase the deficit using only spending cuts. A legislative report says state agencies would see a 7 percent budget reduction.

Republican Rep. Erin Davis requested the info. She says she’s not advocating for cutting Kansas spending, but she wanted to see what the option would look like.

After getting the numbers, Davis says the cuts would mean furloughs at some agencies, which would impact services.

“It’s not like they can go from having the toilets cleaned five days a week to two days a week and have a major savings," Davis says. "The effect of this would be that there would be furloughs. Yes, average Kansans would feel this."

The reductions would mean more than $200 million taken from K-12 education. The state’s public universities would take $40 million in cuts.

“Now we have a picture of what the cuts would look like and we’ll see exactly how members want to move forward,” says Republican Troy Waymaster, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Waymaster says the governor’s proposal to dissolve an investment fund to fill the current year’s budget hole looks more palatable than the cuts.

“I’m telling you right now…that would be an extreme hit to K-12,” Waymaster says.

Mark Tallman, with the Kansas Association of School Boards, says some districts may be able to use reserve funds to get through the rest of the fiscal year. He says they'd then have to make spending cuts for the coming years. That could mean closing buildings, cutting staff and cutting student programs.

"There's no way around it if you're talking about this type of magnitude of reduction," Tallman says.

Some of the other cuts found in the budget report:

  • Board of Regents: $13.2 million
  • Department for Children and Families: $9.5 million
  • Department for Aging and Disability Services: $25.3 million
  • Department of Corrections: $11.6 million
  • Judicial Branch: $7.3 million