Reaction to State budget cuts

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Governor Sam Brownback’s administration outlined his plan to deal with the state’s looming $279 million budget shortfall. It only covers the current fiscal year,which ends June 30 and does not address an even bigger 436 million dollar shortfall for the upcoming year.

While many are thankful that the Governor won’t take away from education or Medicaid, it leaves almost every state agency having to re-evaluate their own budgets.

“Budgets are now having to be paid for on the backs of some of the youngest and most vulnerable children in Kansas,” says a Vice President at Kansas Action for Children, Christie Applehanz.

She says that, because with Governor Brownback’s announcement on Tuesday, close to 15 million dollars will be taken from early childhood education programs throughout the state.

“That affects 200,000 Kansas children who are served by these programs,” says Applehanz.

Something that is frustrating to Applehanz because 140 million has been taken out of the fund since 1999.

Another agency who has frequently had their funds taken during budget deficits is the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Both agencies are having to readjust their balanced budgets because the state didn’t balance its own. Because of revenue shortfalls, all state agencies will take a four-percent budget cut and won’t fill any vacancies.

The department of Transportation, says they’re lucky because they knew cuts were coming and can absorb the hit due to a newly thriving construction industry.

“The revenue has been higher than we’ve anticipated, the costs have been lowered so that’s how we’re able to do this today without really impacting our construction program,” says Kansas Department of Transportation’s, Steve Swartz.

But some agencies don’t work like that. Meaning a state’s ‘quick fix’ could have long-standing implications.

“The babies and toddlers of today, if they don’t get what they need, we’re going to see that in third grade reading scores, we’re going to see that in high school graduation rates,” says Applehanz.

While the Governor has outlined plans to salvage the current 2014 budget, he and the legislature will have to find a way to balance the 2015 shortfall as well.





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