City, Regents Skeptical of Governor's Budget Cuts

By: 13 News
By: 13 News

Governor Kathleen Sebelius' proposals for balancing the state's books are being met with a critical eye by those they impact.

Budget director Duane Goosen outlined the Governor's proposals Tuesday for closing a $186 million gap in the current fiscal year. The shortfall could grow to nearly a billion dollars by next year if left unchecked.

Among the proposals is slashing payments to cities and counties. Topeka officials say it amounts to $1.5 million in the Capital City's budget, split equally between General Fund, Parks and Recreation Fund, and Special Alcohol Program Fund.

Topeka Mayor Bill Bunten says the cuts are on top of two other reductions in payments to municipalities over the past several years. He says the Governor's statement that she's balancing the budget without raising taxes isn't entirely accurate. He says any reduction to local governments may help the state, but increases the chance local taxes will go up.

The Governor's proposal also reduces money for Kansas universities by $120 million.

Regents chairperson Donna Shank says the higher education system will be able to absorb the cuts for the current fiscal year through careful planning. She says it "will not be easy or painless," but they understand each agency must to its part.

The future, she says, is less clear.

“Looking ahead to Fiscal Year 2010, the Governor has proposed further
budgetary reductions that will make it increasingly difficult to address
critical workforce shortages that exist in Kansas, make additional
progress on vital deferred maintenance projects, and keep higher
education affordable for hard-working students and their families," Shank said in a statement. "The state’s higher education system only recently recovered from cuts incurred during the last recession and a $120 million hit would profoundly stunt the progress the system has made toward meeting the state’s workforce and economic development needs.”

The bill will be reviewed by the Appropriations and Ways and Means committees Wednesday.


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