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Kansas Governor Orders Budget Cuts for Universities, Public Schools

A sunny view of the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka. (Photo by J. Schafer)
A sunny view of the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka. (Photo by J. Schafer)

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has ordered nearly $45 million in budget cuts for public schools and higher education.  The cuts will take effect next month.  Today's (THUR) announcement follows an earlier round of allotments made to state agencies last year.  KPR's J. Schafer has more.


The state is still taking in far less tax revenue than officials had hoped.  As a result, the governor has ordered new cuts to address the budget shortfall.  These additional allotments -- 2-percent for state universities and 1.5-percent for public schools -- should save the state nearly $45 million.  Even under the new budget cuts, the governor says funding for higher ed and public schools remains higher this year than in fiscal year 2014.  The governor also urged lawmakers to rework the current school finance formula.  He pointed to the purchase of a $48,000 grand piano by one school as being symptomatic of the flaws in the current finance formula.  The governor claimed that money could have been used instead to hire another teacher.  I'm J. Schafer. ####


(Text of the news release from the governor's office)

Governor Sam Brownback outlines additional budget actions

Topeka – As a result of lower-than-expected sales tax revenue, Governor Sam Brownback today announced additional allotments to address a projected budget shortfall.  “First, I want to thank the Legislature for its immediate consideration of the rescission bill,” the Governor said. “I appreciate their hard work on behalf of the people of Kansas.”  The additional allotments of 2 percent of the Regents system and 1.5 percent for K-12 will result in a savings of $44.5 million for the state general fund.  Even with the allotments, Fiscal Year 2015 funding for higher education remains $20 million above FY ’14 funding.  State Aid for K-12 funding in Fiscal Year 2015 remains $177 million higher than FY’14 funding.  The allotments will take place on March 7.  “I am calling on the legislature to reform equalization factors in the current school finance formula over the next 30 days to stall the increase of $54 million in Local Option Budget State Aid and Capital Outlay State Aid spending that was not appropriated by the Legislature in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget bill,” said Governor Brownback. “By reforming the equalization factors, the legislature could, and should, restore the 1.5 percent allotment.”  Recent media coverage of the purchase of a $48,000 grand piano is symptomatic of the inherent flaws in the current formula.  That money could and should have been used to hire another teacher to reduce class sizes and help improve academic achievement.  “The dramatic increase in state education funding that has occurred over the last four years is unsustainable,” the Governor said. “School districts are estimated to have approximately $381 million in reserve fund balances to help them offset the smaller than expected increase in state funding.  The Kansas Department of Education should work with school districts to help them with any cash flow challenges that may arise.”  The Governor will implement the allotment plan as provided in K.S.A. 75-3722. The allotment plan and recommendation letter may be found at http://budget.ks.gov  


J. Schafer is the News Director of Kansas Public Radio. He’s also the Managing Editor of the Kansas Public Radio Network, which provides news and information to other public radio stations in Kansas and Missouri.