Republican Governor Sam Brownback is cutting most state agencies 4 percent to balance the Kansas budget for next year. Lawmakers approved a budget that wasn’t balanced, requiring the governor to make nearly $100 million in cuts to bring spending in line.
Lawmakers included a provision in the budget saying cuts couldn't affect K-12 education. Brownback could have vetoed that requirement, but he instead chose to let it stand. Brownback’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, says the governor exempted some agencies and K-12 schools.
“These were not easy decisions, but the governor developed a plan that protects public safety, supports our state hospitals and maintains our ability to provide government services without interruption,” says Sullivan.
Higher education will take $30 million in cuts, which are not evenly distributed. The largest schools, KU and K-State, will take the largest percentage cuts. KU and KU Med will lose nearly $11 million total. K-State will lose $7 million overall.
Sullivan points out that they found ways to manage costs and avoid tax increases.
Democratic state Senator Laura Kelly says university cuts will mean bigger tuition increases and cuts to Medicaid may reduce services. Kelly says that’s the result of not amending tax cuts passed in recent years.
“We needed to deal with that, we needed to increase our revenue sources so that these kinds of cuts wouldn’t need to be made. It’s just piling damage onto damage,” says Kelly.
The governor’s office does not expect the budget cuts to cause any layoffs, but the decisions on how to absorb the reductions will be left to state agency leaders.
The governor’s office warns that a lawsuit over education funding could result in more budget cuts. That’s because state Supreme Court justices could order more spending on Kansas schools.