As Kansas lawmakers continue to search for common ground on a budget, an advocacy group says the long-term future of early childhood programs is at stake.
So far, the competing versions of a state budget for 2014 have all included Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to transfer $9.5 million dollars from the Children’s Initiative Fund to the State General Fund.
Shannon Cotsoradis, who heads the non-profit Kansas Action for Children, says a memo from Attorney General Derek Schmidt makes it clear that payments from the tobacco companies that fund children’s programs are going to be shrinking.
“I’m hopeful that they’ll really take the time to look at the Attorney General’s memo, to understand that there is a fiscal cliff on the horizon for the Children’s Initiatives Fund," she says. "And to be prudent in their decision making so that a few years down the road we’re not talking about 20 percent or more reductions to the state’s early childhood programs.”
The legislature voted in 1999 to use the proceeds of a lawsuit against the tobacco companies to create an endowment to permanently fund programs benefiting children. But Cotsoradis says that endowment has been raided to the tune of $140 million dollars over the past 12 years, and is now all but empty.