Kansas Budget Woes Spark Talk of Ag Agency Merger

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The state's financial problems revive a proposal to merge two small agencies into the Department of Agriculture.

The proposal comes from the Legislature's audit committee, and supporters believe it could reduce spending by $3.5 million over five years.

Under the plan, the Department of Agriculture would absorb the duties of the currently independent Animal Health Department and State Conservation Commission.

However, both agencies are resisting the idea, questioning whether service to Kansans would be less responsive.

Similar proposals failed to get much support in 2005 and earlier this year.

But legislative researchers now project that the state will finish its current fiscal year on June 30 with a $141 million budget deficit.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)