Kansas lawmakers face uphill budget battle

TOPEKA (KSNT) — It’s a new year for the Kansas Legislature, and already they have some tough decisions ahead.

“There’s 165 people here in the House and the Senate and we all came here to do what’s best for Kansas and at the end of the day that’s what we’re going to do,” said Rep. Fred Patton, (R) of Topeka.

But it will be far from simple. Last year lawmakers left with a balanced budget, but now that’s no longer the case.

“This year we were way off budget, and so we have to handle about a $600 million down turn,” said Sen. Susan Wagle, (R) of Wichita.

The only way to cut the shortfall is to cut state agency budgets and programs, but Republican’s are adamant, at least for now, that the Governor’s income tax cuts will not be repealed.

“I can assure you that no one in the Kansas Senate wants to repeal those tax cuts. We feel like they’ve helped the economy and we believe in the future it’ll be good for making sure people stay in Kansas,” said Sen. Wagle.

For now they’re looking to Thursday’s State of the State address, where the Governor will lay out his budget.

Lawmakers will have to find a way to either pay for what Brownback wants, or find a way to pay for their own programs.

“I have a lot of senators who also have ideas on how to approach it and we’ll have hearings, we’ll listen to the people and we’ll see what happens,” said Sen. Wagle.

Although it’s still unclear what cuts will have to be made, legislators say they are optimistic about the 2015 session and balancing the budget.

Kansas First News will be live streaming the Governor’s State of the State address Thursday night.

It begins at 6:30.

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