KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- It’s back to the drawing board for Kansas lawmakers after they felt pushback from a proposal to cut millions of dollars from education. State senators are now scrambling to find another way to balance a $350-million budget deficit.
Many of the state Senators were elected because they are pro-education, and when they saw the millions of dollars their school districts would lose, they argued against it.
Unable to get enough votes to pass this bill, Republican leadership decided to suspend debate until a new plan could be formed.
"There's four months left in the school year, and school districts would really have to scramble to try to make those kind of cuts within their own budget," Senate democratic leader Anthony Hensley said.
Earlier this week a Senate Committee approved a bill to cut $128-million from K-12 education. School districts such as KCK and Olathe would’ve immediately lost more than $6-million in state funding and had to tap into reserves to make up the difference. Some school districts don’t have enough in reserves and would’ve had to borrow to make ends meet.
Senators tell FOX 4 education takes up more than half the budget – and if they don’t cut from education, they’ll have to cut from somewhere else such as Medicaid or public safety to balance the budget by the end of June.
"When we have that kind of hole with no ending balance, we have to be able, we have to fill that cut as soon as possible so that those who are affected have time to react," Senate Vice President Jeff Longbine said.
The House is also working on ways to cut $350-million from the budget. There is no word yet on what their next proposal entails or if it still includes cuts to K-12 education.
"We've got a number of new senators that are moderate in their political thinking that are pro education and want to be sure that we pass a budget that provides adequate and fair funding for K-12 education," Hensley said.
Longbine adds that Kansas probably cut taxes way too fast and way too quick in 2012, which he believes has contributed to their problems on the revenue side.