Kansas budget

Sean Sandefur file photo

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a bill giving him more discretion in making some budget cuts during the next fiscal year while protecting aid to public schools.

The Republican governor signed the measure Tuesday. It will remain in effect only during the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Stephen Koranda / File Photo

Gov. Sam Brownback says he is "very disappointed" in the Kansas House's failure to pass a tax plan, but he still is focused on filling the state's looming budget deficit through tax increases rather than budget cuts.

Brownback described the House Thursday as "fractured," but he said he still thinks a compromise can be reached. Legislators are at an impasse over tax and spending proposals aimed at filling a projected $406 million shortfall in the fiscal year beginning July.

Stephen Koranda file photo

Tax negotiators from the Kansas House have presented a new agreement that they hope can pass the chamber and move the Legislature towards ending the 2015 session.

The proposal is close to a plan already approved by the Senate. It relies mostly on increasing the sales tax and eliminating tax deductions to balance the budget.

The House’s plan does adjust some controversial policy pieces in the Senate bill, including softening a cap on local property tax increases.

Gov. Sam Brownback's budget director says state hospitals for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled and the agency that runs them could lose a total of nearly $46 million if lawmakers don't increase taxes.

Budget Director Shawn Sullivan said Tuesday that the state Department for Aging and Disability Services would lose $41 million during the fiscal year beginning July 1. Its four hospitals would lose nearly $5 million.

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The seven largest school districts in Kansas would lose a total of $67 million in state aid if Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is forced to cut spending $400 million because legislators don't pass tax increases.

The state Department of Education says Wichita would lose $22 million of the aid it has been promised for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Budget Director Shawn Sullivan has said an across-the-board cut in spending would be Brownback's most likely option if lawmakers don't increase taxes to balance the next budget. Schools would lose a total of $197 million.

Stephen Koranda

Kansas House members could balance the next state budget by approving a bill to increase sales and cigarette taxes. The Senate's vote Sunday night was 21-17 to approve the measure.

The House could vote on the tax plan today; it's the 109th day of the legislative session, now the longest in state history.

Each extra day of the session has cost the state more than $40,000. Lawmakers traditionally schedule their sessions to last 90 days.

Passage by the House would send the measure to Governor Sam Brownback.

Stephen Koranda

Kansans will pay higher sales and cigarette taxes under a tax plan approved by a single vote Sunday in the state Senate. The tax increases are needed to balance the state budget. But as Jim McLean reports, the House hasn’t yet considered the plan. That vote is scheduled for Monday afternoon.

Stephen Koranda

With only hours remaining before furloughs started, Kansas lawmakers approved a bill that prevents state workers from being taken off the job. Governor Sam Brownback has signed the bill and says all state employees should report to work as usual.

While financial pressures still exist in state government, the bill deems all state employees “essential” and exempt from being furloughed. That designation only lasts through the end of the legislative session.

Stephen Koranda file photo

The lead budget writer in the Kansas Senate has proposed creating a new budget option for lawmakers that includes additional spending cuts. Republican Sen. Ty Masterson has proposed a new budget option with an additional 6 percent cut to virtually all of state government.

Lawmakers are now 13 days into overtime. The Senate has failed to pass tax increases to close a budget gap for the fiscal year that's about to begin, so Masterson says it's time to put some budget-cutting options on the table.

Stephen Koranda

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.

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