A Kansas Senate committee has advanced a bill that would fill an immediate budget hole without cuts to state services.
Kansas lawmakers face a budget shortfall for the current fiscal year approaching $300 million. The Senate plan to close that gap would short contributions into the state pension then pay that back over the coming years. It would also borrow part of a state investment fund.
The bill passed out of committee with bipartisan votes. Democratic Senator Laura Kelly calls the plan “sort of ugly,” but she likes some things about it. For one, it avoids any further cuts to higher education and reductions to K-12 schools.
“While it’s not perfect, it gets us where we need to go,” says Kelly.
Republican Senator Carolyn McGinn, the chair of the budget-writing committee, says the timing was not right to make budget cuts.
“I think that they were willing to make a few cuts had it been a month ago," says McGinn. "It’s very difficult to make some of those institutions do those cuts at the very end of the fiscal year."
The full Senate is likely to consider the bill later this week.
The plan would fix the current year that ends in June, but the coming fiscal years are also in the red. Lawmakers are considering tax increases to help erase those deficits.