March 17 A committee of Kansas lawmakers will be
charged with reconciling differences in legislation passed to
plug a $280 million hole in the state's fiscal 2017 budget after
the Senate passed a revised version of a House-approved bill
late on Thursday.
Both versions would allow the state to borrow money from a
long-term investment fund and delay a payment to the Kansas
Public Employees Retirement System. But the monetary amounts and
plans to repay the cash differ, J.G. Scott, assistant director
for fiscal affairs at the Kansas Legislative Research
Department, said on Friday.
Tax cuts enacted in 2012 have gouged a hole in the Kansas
budget as revenue failed to meet monthly estimates, although
February marked a fourth straight month that collections met or
Kansas also faces higher education spending in the wake of a
recent state supreme court ruling.
Scott said the bills to fix the budget will head to a
legislative conference committee probably next week.
The Senate on Thursday rejected three attempts to amend the
bill with across-the-board spending cuts of 2 percent, 1 percent
and 0.5 percent.
Republican Senate President Susan Wagle contended spending
cuts, which would have included primary and secondary public
schools, would ease tax hikes the legislature is expected to
take up to tackle a $755 million projected budget shortfall over
the next two fiscal years.
A move in the state legislature last month to boost revenue
by raising tax rates and eliminating a business exemption failed
when the Senate was unable to override Republican Governor Sam
Complicating Kansas' finances is a March 2 state supreme
court ruling that found the school funding system falls short of
a constitutional requirement for adequacy. The ruling, which set
a June 30 deadline for the enactment of a constitutional funding
method, could require Kansas to increase school funding by more
than $500 million each year.
Moody's Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings have said
the ruling will put increased pressure on the state's already
Meanwhile, resolutions are pending in the House and Senate
to put a constitutional amendment on the November 2018 ballot
that would require a two-thirds vote by both legislative
chambers to pass any state tax increase. The measure also seeks
an annual cap on state spending and creates funds for debt
payments and a budget reserve.
Scott said previous attempts to put similar measures on the
ballot were not successful.
(Reporting by Karen Pierog in Chicago; Editing by Matthew