Kansas governor signs budget but vetoes pension payment

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly speaks to reporters, Monday, April 22, 2019, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kansas. (AP Photo/John Hanna)
By  | 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly has vetoed an extra $51 million payment to the state's public pension system while signing the bulk of the next state budget approved by the Legislature.

The Democratic governor said Monday that an additional payment to the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System is not prudent with other parts of state government facing additional needs. The extra payment was meant to offset past instances in which the state shorted its annual contributions.

Kelly noted she had already signed a law to repay an extra $115 million in debt incurred to the pension system. She said that payment made up for "past mistakes."

"However, given the large number of critical, unmet needs still facing state government, it is not prudent to add an additional KPERS payment that goes beyond the regularly scheduled payments already being made," she said.

In response the veto, Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) accused Kelly for turning her back on teachers and state employees.

"Instead of protecting the retirement of hardworking Kansans, Laura Kelly would rather pocket the money to fund her big spending agenda,” Wagle said.

She also used her power to veto individual budget items to reject several other items included by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The budget provides more than $18.3 billion for state government for the fiscal year beginning in July. It includes a pay raise for state workers and extra money for prisons, social services and higher education.