Kansas budget

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Some high-ranking Republicans have said tax policy is on the table as lawmakers work to eliminate a state budget deficit. But as Stephen Koranda reports, they aren’t endorsing a tax increase.

Senate President Susan Wagle previously said all options for Kansas budget balancing are up for consideration.

This week, Gov. Sam Brownback said he’s not ruling anything out when it comes to the budget. But Brownback pushed for the tax cuts, and he is not saying he likes the idea of modifying them.

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Legislators in Kansas have some big issues on their plate next year. As Stephen Koranda reports, they’re already planning on a long session.

Kansas lawmakers already know they’ll have to balance the state budget. Add into that the huge issue of writing a new school funding formula.

But that’s not all: The Kansas Supreme Court could issue a ruling that says the state has to increase funding for schools by hundreds of millions of dollars, which would further complicate everything.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

The president of the Kansas Senate says lawmakers should take a bigger role in crafting the budget.

The governor creates a Kansas budget proposal and delivers it to the Legislature at the start of the session. While the final budget bill is often significantly different, the governor gives legislators a starting point to work from.

Senate President Susan Wagle says lawmakers should do more and write their own budget plan from scratch.

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Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has decided against proposing across-the-board cuts in state spending next year after his budget director asked agencies to propose 5 percent reductions and found some of the recommendations "harmful" to services.

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Gov. Sam Brownback says his office won't release any spending plans until the final version of the budget is unveiled in January.

The administration has asked state agencies and universities to imagine what they would do if a 5 percent budget cut was needed, but those documents won’t be made public. The governor's office says such draft documents are not subject to the Kansas Open Records Act.

Universities in Kansas have been taking steps to absorb state funding cuts. As Stephen Koranda reports, the University of Kansas and Kansas State University are adopting different approaches.

KU announced this week that there would be positions left unfilled and targeted budget cuts, including some significant reductions to certain programs. At K-State, the strategy is a little different: Spokesperson Jeff Morris says K-State officials gave all departments an equal cut of just under 4 percent.

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Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration is asking state agencies and universities to think about how they’d handle a 5 percent budget cut.

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The Kansas budget director says the state may take additional highway funds and delay a school payment to balance the budget for the current year. June is the last month of the fiscal year, and Budget Director Shawn Sullivan says tax collections could come up short.

Sullivan says Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration could take $16 million in highway funds and up to $45 million in Medicaid fee funds to help cover a budget shortfall.

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Gov. Sam Brownback is looking to shuffle funds within the state government to cover a projected shortfall.

Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley told the Associated Press that since it is very hard to make cuts at this late date, it is more likely that money will be diverted from dozens of special funds into the state's main account.

Revenues for the state fell short $74 million in May. When the fiscal year ends on the last day of this month, Kansas is projected to have a $45 million dollar deficit.

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Kansas lawmakers return to Topeka Wednesday for what was supposed to be the last day of the legislative session. However, the state Supreme Court ruled late Friday that lawmakers haven’t done enough to reduce funding disparities among school districts. That means there’s likely more work ahead for the Legislature.

Lawmakers shuffled school spending to reduce disparities, but the court says that didn’t fix the issue and in some ways made it worse. Justices say they’ll close Kansas schools if there isn’t a solution by the end of June.