House offer would shield school funding from Governor’s cuts

House budget negotiators Friday night proposed an amendment that would prohibit the Governor from using special allotment authority to reduce K-12 funding to balance the budget.

The proposal, offered by House Appropriations Committee Chair Ron Ryckman, Jr., would also address the state’s projected shortfall of $140 million in the current fiscal year ending June 30 and $250 million next year by delaying this year’s fourth quarter contributions for the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System and repaying the delay over a longer period of time.

The proposal would use any state general revenues in excess of the official estimates to repay the delayed installment. It would also use tobacco settlement revenues in excess of $42 million currently dedicated to children’s programs for the KPERS repayment.

The Legislature has already given the governor authority to delay $99 million in KPERS payments in the current year, but required it to be paid back within a few months of July 1. Brownback’s “option two” for addressing the budget deficit would have further delayed the payment until at least 2018. The House proposal allows that delay, but also sets up a specific revenue source for the repayment.

The Governor’s “option one” would have sold the tobacco settlement revenue in excess of $42 for a one-time infusion of cash, but there has been little legislative support for that plan. The House proposal would use that revenue to help repay the $99 million KPERS delay.

The Senate is expected to respond to the House offer this morning. Significant reductions or delays in spending appear inevitable after state revenue estimates were reduced last week. The House also rejected a proposal to reinstate a tax on small businesses yesterday. Even that plan would not have raised enough money in time to correct shortfalls in the next two years.

The Governor has also proposed a shift of more money from the state highway fund to the state general fund, extend funding cuts to state universities for another year, and seek further efficiencies in state agencies.

April 30, 2016