state budget

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Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is giving few hints regarding his plan for fixing the Kansas budget shortfall. The state faces a $350 million deficit in the current fiscal year and an additional budget gap next year.

The governor will unveil his Kansas spending plan in January. Brownback told reporters at an event Tuesday that he isn’t working with lawmakers on crafting the proposal, and he wouldn’t give any specifics about what he’s considering.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Legislative researchers have found that the bond debt in Kansas has more than tripled since the late 1990s.

A chart they created shows the debt level stands at more than $5 billion for the 2017 fiscal year, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. From fiscal year 1997 to 2017, the total amount of bond debt increased by 336.4 percent, or $3.8 billion, according to the chart.

okpolicy.org

The Wichita chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists is hosting a talk Tuesday night about the Kansas budget and the state’s tax policy.

The event will feature Annie McKay, executive director of the Kansas Center for Economic Growth and the incoming president and CEO of Kansas Action for Children. KCEG describes itself as nonpartisan and was created in 2013 to educate Kansans about the state’s economic policies.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas lawmakers will return to the Statehouse this week and they'll be looking for ways to erase a budget deficit. Part of that discussion could focus on business taxes. As KPR's Stephen Koranda reports, some legislators say it's time to reconsider a tax policy that lets thousands of business owners pay no state income tax.

Republican Sen. Jim Denning is one of the Kansas lawmakers saying the business tax exemption needs to be rolled back or modified. Denning says he’s tired of budget solutions he sees as one-time fixes.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Governor Brownback’s office pitched three budget-balancing options to Kansas lawmakers this week, but it doesn’t look like legislative leaders are planning to rubber stamp any of the proposals. 

The chair of the Senate’s budget-writing committee, Republican Ty Masterson, says he doesn’t believe any of the three will be approved by lawmakers.

“These are just three options the governor produced. We’re going to look at them, evaluate them. I’m sure none of the three will come out exactly as he’s intended them. Could be a combination of the three,” Masterson says.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

This week, Kansas lawmakers approved a budget and sent it to the governor, but that doesn’t mean their budget work is done.

The spending plan eliminated a projected deficit, but doesn’t leave the state with much money.

Republican Rep. Ron Ryckman says they’ll be studying efficiency recommendations they hope can help build the savings account starting next year.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor/File photo

Kansas lawmakers today will hear updates on an efficiency study of state government spending.

Kansas lawmakers commissioned the report last year. Republican House Speaker Ray Merrick says he’s looking forward to hearing the suggestions and possible enacting some.

“It may be a lot of stuff in it that we need to really drill down on, and I think everybody’s going to be surprised at the amount of money we’re talking about,” Merrick says.

Kansas Highway Patrol

Gov. Sam Brownback will deliver his sixth State of the State address this evening in Topeka.

He’ll be laying the groundwork for this year’s legislative session. The state is facing a massive budget shortfall for the next fiscal year--but the Kansas Highway Patrol is already asking for a spending increase.

The Kansas Highway Patrol is asking lawmakers to increase the vehicle title fee to pay for more troopers.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Kansas Lawmakers gaveled in today to officially start the 2016 legislative session. Republican House Speaker Ray Merrick says filling a budget hole is his top priority.

Last year was a record-long session focused on tax policy, and Merrick says he does not want a repeat of that.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Kansas officials Friday lowered the state’s estimated tax collections by $160 million for the current year. That puts the state into a nearly $120 million budget deficit.

In response, Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, unveiled a series of spending adjustments to cover the shortfall. The plan takes $50 million from the state highway fund. It also relies on unexpected savings and money shifted away from the Kansas Bioscience Authority and other areas.

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