Schools could loose $197 million in funding

Schools could lose another $197 million in funding for the fiscal year starting July 1 if the Legislature opts to allow across-the-board spending cuts rather than filling the state’s budget deficit with new revenue.

On Tuesday, the Kansas State Department of Education prepared tallies at the request of the governor’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, showing the district-by-district effects of slicing 6.2 percent off state aid for schools.

The Kansas City, Kan., district would suffer the largest blow in the Kansas City metro area, losing almost $10.8 million. Olathe is next, facing a $10.3 million cut. The Shawnee Mission district would lose $8.3 million, and Blue Valley $6.1 million.

Topeka Unified School District 501 would lose $6.13 million and Wichita USD 259 would lose $22 million.

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GOP lawmakers pursue revision
of Kansas business break,
despite Brownback stance

By John Hanna
The Associated Press

Top Republican legislators in Kansas appear increasingly ready to reconsider a business tax break that’s been a cherished economic policy for GOP Gov. Sam Brownback, possibly making it more difficult to close a projected budget shortfall.

Brownback is clear that he wants to preserve an exemption from personal income taxes for 281,000 business owners and 53,000 farmers. He calls the policy, enacted in 2012 as part of a larger package of income tax cuts, the “small business accelerator” and describes it as a catalyst for job growth. Continue reading

Brownback’s budget misses the mark

A blog by former Kansas Budget Director Duane Goossen

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Duane Goossen served as the Kansas Budget Director for 12 years in the administrations of three governors — Republican Bill Graves and Democrats Kathleen Sebelius and Mark Parkinson.)

What to do? Income to the Kansas general fund has fallen so low that it no longer comes close to supporting normal, reasonable expenses, and the bank account is empty.

The governor (Sam Brownback) has sent the Legislature a proposed budget to address the situation, but his recommended solutions do not strike at the cause of the crisis.

Here’s the problem: Kansas general fund expenses currently total about $6.4 billion, and those expenses are growing. They will continue to grow. To cover expenses, Kansas needs a revenue stream that is also at least $6.4 billion and growing. But the Brownback tax policies, put in place in 2012 and 2013, cut income tax receipts dramatically. The governor’s own Department of Revenue estimates the loss of income tax revenue to be $886 million in this fiscal year, and more next year. As a result, overall general fund revenue has fallen below $5.8 billion. Under current policy, prospects for that income stream to increase remain slim.

To read the entire blog, click here.

Look out Texas, here comes Kansas; look out nation, here comes Brownback

After listening to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s State of the State Address Tuesday night, it seems pretty obvious that he might be gearing up for another presidential run in 2016 or at least is wanting to be part of a Republican president’s cabinet if the party is successful in four years.

Brownback ran for president in 2008 but didn’t have anything to campaign on other than his ultra-conservative views for government, family values and abortion. Now he will have Kansas on his presidential resume.

In outlining his agenda, not just for 2014 but for the next two years, Brownback said, “Look out Texas, here comes Kansas.” Continue reading

Kansas’ success is key for ‘King’ Brownback

When President Obama last December stopped in little Osawatomie, Kan., to give a national speech, Kan. Gov. Sam Brownback should have taken some time to chat with the president because, in reality, in their respective positions they have shared a lot of common ground.

Just like Obama on a national scale when he took the oath of office, when Brownback moved into the Governor’s Mansion he was greeted with a declining state economy, declining state revenues, a broken school finance formula, high unemployment, and a huge recurring hole in the state budget. Obama was welcomed with a Democratic-controlled House and Senate; Brownback has enjoyed a House filled not just with nearly all Republicans, but with a majority of ultra-conservative Republicans as well as a Senate that is close to being all Republicans and just a couple of seats short of being a majority of ultra-conservatives.

Yep, Obama and Brownback almost were like two peas in a pod given their initial situations. Continue reading

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