KANSAS CITY, KAN—Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has a plan to balance the state's budget, but opponents fear that the $60 million in proposed cuts will come at the expense of public school districts.
In all, $56.5 million dollars is being cut from the current budget. The governor's office says that after weeks of negotiations failed, it needed to be done to solve a financial crisis. But one state lawmaker, Democratic Sen. David Haley says the cuts could open the door for other crisis.
"It is more prudent to look at scaling in some of these, to take a scalple if you will to downsizing the budget instead of the meat ax that Governor Brownback is taking," said Haley.
Late Friday afternoon, Brownback unveiled the $56.5 million state budget fix. It takes $50.2 million from the state's k-12 schools. That amounts to $75 less in base state aid per child. It also takes $2.3 million each from higher education, and social service agencies, and $1.3 million from the state finance council.
"We believed very strongly that government should ensure that we have suitable education for all Kansas children," said Haley, who says that the cuts will hurt the state's most vulnerable citizens. He says that lawmakers need to look elsewhere to fill the state's budget gaps.
"We still haven't touched the corporate tax structures, and some of the major exemptions that we afford to the weathiest Kansans and the wealthiest people doing business in Kansas," said Haley.
Brownbacks plan would leave the state budget balanced by June, as required by the state constitution. The house version of the budget would have left about a $35 million dollar cushion. Senator Haley says, if passed, Brownback's plan would also puts in jeopardy some federal matching dollars the state could be eligable for.
"The governor certainly has enough support in the house to pass anything at this point that he wants," said Haley.