KPERS

Kansas lawmakers approved an updated $16 billion budget Saturday on a 92-24 vote as they worked through part of the weekend.

The bill amends the spending plans lawmakers approved last year, and includes some targeted increases in state government funding.

It partially restores cuts to higher education from 2016, at a cost of $12 million. It also allocates $8 million to provide raises to workers in the judicial branch.

The bill funnels more money into the state’s pension plan, KPERS, to make up for a missed $194 million payment.

Changes in federal tax law could actually cost some Kansans more in state taxes.

Kansas lawmakers might turn down that revenue windfall and add an election year tax cut instead. A bill they’re backing would cost roughly the same amount as a court-triggered boost to school spending.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File photo

Part of Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget proposal would delay payments into the state pension plan, KPERS. It would also take an additional 10 years to pay off a deficit in the retirement system.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Officials with the state’s pension plan say the system's investments won’t be paying as much as they previously expected. That grows the long-term deficit in the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System and will make it more challenging to eliminate a shortfall.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

The election next week seems likely to shift the ideology of the Kansas Legislature. It appears there could be more Democrats and centrist-leaning Republicans. Stephen Koranda reports on how the governor and these new lawmakers might get along.

Gov. Sam Brownback told reporters this week that he would work with the new Kansas legislature, even if it’s ideologically different from now. Brownback points out how he worked with the previous moderate leadership in the Senate several years ago.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File photo

The return on investments made by the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System hasn't consistently lived up to estimates, and it may lead KPERS officials to lower the forecast for the rate of return next month. As Stephen Koranda reports, lowering the forecast could have significant consequences.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

The Kansas employee pension plan has not been getting a very good return on its investments recently.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

For the second time in two years, a major ratings agency downgraded Kansas' credit rating Tuesday because of the state's budget problems.

From the AP:  

S&P Global Ratings dropped its rating for Kansas to "AA-," from AA, three months after putting the state on a negative credit watch. S&P also dropped the state's credit rating in August 2014.

Pew Charitable Trust

A report out this week from Pew Charitable Trusts found that unfunded pensions are the largest claim on future revenues in the state of Kansas.

The data set looks at the debt of all 50 states, the money owed into pension funds, and future money owed for retiree health care.

Using data from 2013, the report found Kansas has a $9.8 billion shortfall between the benefits promised to teachers and government workers and the savings available to meet those obligations.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Kansas lawmakers struggled over the weekend, working late nights as they tried to craft a budget solution. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, they ultimately approved a plan in the early hours of Monday morning.

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