The Kansas Senate’s Ways and Means Committee has approved a bill that would cut $125 million from the $13 billion budget for fiscal 2010 signed earlier this month by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. The reductions include a $75 million cut in state aid for public education.
The full Senate will consider the revisions when the Legislature convenes this week for its budget reconciliation session.
The revisions included some revenue hikes, but a budget bill approved in the House focuses on spending cuts. The House bill cut spending by $250 million, including $100 million less for public education. That would be on top of those included in a budget legislators previously approved for the 2010 fiscal year.
Additional work on the budget is required after the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group last week lowered its forecast of expected tax revenue by $744 million through the end of fiscal 2010.
The forecasters decreased the overall revenue estimate for fiscal years 2009 and 2010 by $516.9 million from a bleak projection in November, lowering the estimate for fiscal 2009 to $5.67 billion and for fiscal 2010 to $5.38 billion.
“When looking only at tax receipts, the downward adjustment for the two years is $744.2 million, the largest downward revision in the history of the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group,” the report said. “Many forecasts continue to indicate this could be the longest and deepest recession in the last 70 years.”
The estimate for November assumed that Kansas would experience a more moderate economic contraction than the rest of the nation, but the group said that turned out to be incorrect.
Sebelius said with the lower revenue projections, the Legislature should reconsider some of her proposals that were rejected when the budget was prepared. She said the measures she has recommended would boost revenues or cut spending by a total of at least $180 million.
“It’s been clear that state revenues would continue to decline dramatically as a result of the national economic recession,” she said. “That’s why my budget, and its subsequent budget amendments, proposed millions of dollars in additional savings. Unfortunately, the Legislature chose not to take action on a number of these cost-saving measures.”
The governor’s proposals included shifting all liquor taxes and gambling revenue to the general fund, suspending the phase-out of the estate tax, and reducing general fund appropriations to some agencies.
“I hope the Legislature enacts my recommendations before they propose more cuts in essential services for vulnerable citizens or further cuts in education,” Sebelius said.