Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's authority to temporarily short Kansas' contributions to public pensions would be limited under a budget-balancing measure the Kansas House was debating Wednesday.

The bill would eliminate a projected deficit of nearly $200 million in the state's $16.1 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Stephen Koranda file photo

A Kansas Senate committee has voted to let Gov. Sam Brownback delay making payments into the state pension plan.

Stephen Koranda

A proposal in the Kansas House gives the governor the authority to delay payments to the state pension plan this year if Kansas runs into budget trouble.

Republican Rep. Gene Suellentrop says this gives the governor a temporary option to keep the state from running a deficit.

“In the ’17 budget it would need to be balanced and those payments would need to be replaced,” Suellentrop says.

Republican Rep. Steven Johnson wonders if Kansas will be able to pay back any delayed payments.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Kansas recently issued $1 billion in bonds and gave the money raised to the state’s pension plan to invest. This all took place right around the time the stock market started to show signs of a downturn.

However, KPERS Executive Director Alan Conroy isn’t worried. He doesn’t believe recent market losses will have a long-term impact on the investments.

“As a large, institutional investor that’s in for the long haul, that 50-year outlook, there’s going to be lots of ups and downs over 50 years. We’re not day traders,” Conroy says.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback Friday highlighted changes made in recent years to strengthen KPERS, the pension plan for state and local employees. But the governor had little to say when asked if he’d push for further reforms.

Brownback has supported moving the state from a pension to a 401(k)-style plan, where workers are responsible for managing their own retirement investments. When asked if that's still his preference, Brownback would only say that he is reviewing the matter.

Stephen Koranda file photo

Kansas sold $1 billion in bonds Wednesday in an effort to bolster the financial health of its pension system for teachers and government workers, a day after a major rating agency said the move will "do little" to help while increasing the state's financial risks.

Stephen Koranda file photo

Kansas could soon issue a billion dollars in bonds, but that idea isn’t getting a glowing review from Moody's Investors Service, one of the nation's leading bond-rating companies.

The state wants to borrow money to help shore-up the finances of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, or KPERS.

Moody’s pointed to the state’s recent budget troubles when giving the Kansas bonds what it calls a “below-average rating.”

Stephen Koranda file photo

In just over a month, the state of Kansas could be borrowing $1 billion to inject into the state’s pension plan, the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. A group made up of the governor and legislators has given final approval to the plan. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, the money would be given to KPERS to invest.

Stephen Koranda

Kansas legislators are working Monday on the final version of a bill that would allow state to issue $1 billion dollars or more in bonds to the state pension system.

Lawmakers say the bonds will shore up the short-term financial health of the state pension system for teachers and government workers.

Governor Sam Brownback has proposed issuing $1.5 billion dollars in bonds.

Supporters say the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System will get an immediate infusion of funds and believe the earnings from investing the money will more than cover bond payments.

Stephen Koranda

A Kansas House committee is reviewing Governor Sam Brownback's proposal to issue $1.5 billion dollars in bonds, to help lower the state's annual costs in funding pensions for teachers and government workers.

The House Pensions and Benefits Committee's focus today is on a bill authorizing the bonds if the state would pay interest of 5 percent or less to bondholders.

The Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, or KPERS, has a projected long-term funding gap of $9.8 billion dollars, and the state has committed to raising annual contributions to eliminate it by 2033.