KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Kansas legislators have approved a plan for balancing the state budget that gives Republican Gov. Sam Brownback broad discretion to make spending cuts.
The Senate approved the measure on a 22-18 vote early Monday morning. The measure initially was failing, but several GOP senators switched their votes. The House approved the plan earlier Monday morning, 63-59.
The state faces projected shortfalls totaling more than $290 million in its current budget and in the one for the next fiscal year beginning July 1.
The plan assumes Brownback follows through on plans to cut higher education spending and delay major highway projects.
The bill takes away $185 million from transportation affecting future road projects, delays $96 million in payments to the pension fund, and takes away $17 million from the state’s universities, which could cause tuition to rise.
Brownback will also have to make up to $92 million in as-yet-unspecified spending cuts during the next fiscal year but would be barred from touching aid to public schools.
The Governor indicated he would consider a three percent across the board cut from every state agency, but the exact details are not yet known.
There is frustration from many who argue the governor’s cuts to personal income taxes and businesses taxes have caused massive budget shortfalls and produced very little job growth for the state.
A few days ago, lawmakers had a chance to raise business taxes to bring in more money to balance the budget but voted against it. Instead, they have approved massive cuts to road funding and other state agencies and, now the budget bill awaits the governor’s signature, which he indicated he will do.
Kansas Senator Greg Smith issued the following statement regarding the vote:
The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” -Federalist 47
“But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others.” -Federalist 51
The Kansas Senate has been the leader in making sure the “walls of separation” that have been eroding over time in Kansas are being re-erected. House Substitute for Senate Bill 249 cedes the power that is held solely by the Legislature, the power of the purse, to the Executive Branch. This also happened last year. So now we have not only set precedent but also practice. It is an abdication of our constitutional duty. I vote “no” on Sub. For SB 249.