Governor Sam Brownback has presented lawmakers with an amended budget plan following the release of sharply lowered estimates for Kansas tax collections. The proposal would save around $100 million over the next two years, which only puts a dent in a budget shortfall of around $400 million. Stephen Koranda reports.
The proposal uses cost savings from the Medicaid program and from cheaper than expected debt payments. It also increases a fee paid by Kansas health care providers. Shawn Sullivan is Governor Brownback’s budget director.
“We’ve had since Monday morning to know what the updated revenue numbers were, what the impact was, so we can’t put out a comprehensive budget plan of reductions between a Monday and a Thursday,” says Sullivan.
Democratic state Representative Barbara Ballard says she’s not surprised to see a modest proposal from the governor. She says the real issue will be tax increases. Lawmakers on the tax committees will likely start work on that next week.
“We’re going to have to get to new revenues, and he knows that, too. He’s going to let the tax people do it and then he’s going to let us do it,” says Ballard.
The budget shortfall comes after Kansas lawmakers cut taxes in recent years.