Kansas Lawmakers Stalled on Tax Plan; Gov May Order Budget Cuts
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators may resume negotiations over raising taxes to close a budget shortfall amid warnings about potential spending cuts from a top adviser to Governor Sam Brownback. Three senators and three House members scheduled a meeting today (TUE) but didn't commit to talks. The Senate has approved a bill increasing sales and cigarette taxes to help raise $423 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1. But many House members think it would fail in their chamber. The budget gap arose after lawmakers slashed income taxes at Brownback's urging in 2012 and 2013 to stimulate the economy. Budget Director Shawn Sullivan told some House Republicans Monday that without higher taxes, Brownback would likely make across-the-board spending cuts. Sullivan said prison guards would be laid off and aid to schools reduced. He said the state would also reduce payments to health care providers if lawmakers don't raise taxes.
Sullivan said the most likely scenario would be an across-the-board cut of 6.2 percent in the funds allocated under a budget approved for the fiscal year beginning July 1. That budget isn't balanced, as required, and lawmakers are divided over raising taxes. Sullivan provided details to House Republicans. An Associated Press reporter declined to leave the closed meeting. Sullivan said the cuts would be $400 million and would take effect in late July or early August. Kansas' budget problems began after lawmakers slashed income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback's urging.