Friday, April 24, 2009

Greedy Kansas Politicians Cut School Budget by 75M

Now watch the school taxes go up, like everything else.

Kansas House, Senate budget bills cut millions from education
Associated Press

TOPEKA - A Senate committee on Thursday endorsed a bill cutting about $125 million from Kansas' next budget, including $75 million in state aid to public schools.

The reduction in aid for K-12 schools amounts to about 2.5 percent of their state funding. Base aid per pupil would drop about $70, to $4,297.

The Ways and Means Committee's 11-1 vote sent the bill to the Senate for debate, which is expected next week. The measure will be part of a larger plan to balance the budget for fiscal year 2010, which begins July 1.

Under the bill, state universities, community colleges and vocational colleges would lose about $20 million, although they'd have the option of raising tuition in the fall. Other agencies and some social services programs also would lose 2.5 percent of their funding.

"Given the situation we're in, this budget is as good as we're going to get," said Sen. Laura Kelly of Topeka, the committee's ranking Democrat.

Legislators approved a $13 billion budget in March, but a new revenue forecast this month showed the state facing a $328 million deficit when the next fiscal year ends in June 2010.

Lawmakers must revise the budget once the entire Legislature returns Wednesday from its annual spring break.

The committee's bill also includes some revenue adjustments. It taps gambling funds, diverts money from cities and counties and gathers unused regulatory fees sitting in funds outside the state's main bank account.

The committee also is sponsoring legislation to suspend a planned phaseout of the state's estate and corporate franchise taxes and to "decouple" the state's tax code from the federal code. The latter step would boost state revenue in the short term because the federal government enacted some temporary tax cuts to stimulate the economy.

Together, the cuts, the revenue adjustments and the tax changes would eliminate the deficit in the 2010 budget.

"Nobody really likes it, but the bottom line is that we have to balance the budget," said committee Chairman Jay Emler, R-Lindsborg. "This certainly is a fair approach."

The House Appropriations Committee didn't deal with the revenue proposals and endorsed a bill Wednesday that would cut $215 million in spending, including $100 million from aid to public schools.

The House committee's proposals represents a 3.3 percent cut in aid to public schools and would drop districts' base aid by $117 per pupil, to $4,250.

The final version of the spending cuts will be drafted by negotiators for the House and Senate after their chambers pass rival versions.

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