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UPDATE: Kansas Lawmakers Approve Plan for Closing Budget Shortfall

Sunlight hits the shiny, new copper dome on top of the Kansas Statehouse. (Photo by J. Schafer)

UPDATE: 
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators have approved a stop-gap plan for erasing most of a predicted shortfall in the state's current budget so bills can be paid on time. The measure approved Thursday attacks a $344 million deficit projected through June 30 largely by shifting money from highway projects and other special funds to pay for education, social services, prisons and other government programs. Senators approved the bill, 24-1. Republican Governor Sam Brownback is expected to sign it. Shortly before the Senate vote, Brownback also announced that he'd cut $45 million worth of funding for higher education and public schools in March, but offered an alternative. The problems arose after slashing income taxes in 2012 and 2013 to stimulate the economy.

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(Earlier version):
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republicans who control the Kansas Senate expect their chamber to approve a stop-gap plan for closing Kansas' current budget deficit so that it goes to GOP Governor Sam Brownback.  GOP senators plan to discuss the bill this (THUR) morning, with a vote on it by the full chamber scheduled later in the day (around 3pm).  The House approved the measure Wednesday on an 88-34 vote.  Republican leaders believe lawmakers need to pass the bill by February 13 to ensure that the state keeps paying bills on time.  The measure attacks a projected $344 million shortfall in the current budget, mostly by diverting money from highway projects and special funds to general government programs.  But tax collections fell short of expectations through January, and a deficit of $800,000 would remain on June 30.  Top Senate Republicans say they're rushing the stop-gap, budget-balancing measure.  Ways and Means Committee Chairman Ty Masterson of Andover says the bill tackles a projected shortfall in the current budget by shuffling money around.  The GOP-controlled chamber is expected to pass the plan and send it to the governor. 

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