Gov. Sam Brownback is apparently on President-elect Donald Trump’s “short list” for secretary of agriculture. In any case, under Brownback, Kansas has about a $350 million budget gap to fill this fiscal year. Next year is expected to be even worse. In addition, the Kansas Supreme Court is expected to rule in coming months on whether or not the state has underfunded K-12 schools.
Revenue and tax policy and school funding will be high on the legislative agenda when the 2017 session convenes early in January. Even if any changes in tax and revenue policy are made, there is not enough time to raise the revenue needed to erase such a massive budget gap. Logic seems to dictate that budgetary cuts will have to be made in dealing with this fiscal problem. Some legislators want the governor to begin making cuts now, but Brownback says he will not announce his plans until after the legislature convenes. Some legislators think the reason for this is that he does not want to take full responsibility for the immediate fiscal problem by making budgetary cuts and instead wants responsibility to also rest with the legislature. As one legislator told me, that is not leadership.
We already have some indications of where budget cutting will likely occur. The state’s universities and colleges are likely in line for more cuts. During the last week in October, deans of colleges and chairpersons of departments at Wichita State University were asked to plan for how a budget cut of six percent for the 2018 fiscal year could be absorbed.
Wichita State President John Bardo will hold a campus town hall meeting about the University’s budget this coming Friday.
Info on Friday's town hall, from the November 14, 2016 issue of WSU Today: Given the state budget environment, it seems wise to prepare for all possible outcomes. As part of that effort, Wichita State would like to share information and get feedback from the campus community. Please join President John Bardo, Provost Tony Vizzini and Budget Director David Miller as they give a budget update, address questions and ask for input during a town hall at 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, in the CAC Theater.