A $6.15 billion general fund budget for fiscal 2010 that would cut state aid to public schools by $26 million has been approved by the Kansas House Appropriations Committee. The budget assumes the revenue decline will continue, leaving the state with a surplus of only $6.4 million by June 30, 2010.

Debate on the Senate budget bill is expected to begin this week.

The committee’s budget cuts revenue by $50 million, which officials expected to receive in casino license fees from facilities in Sumner and Wyandotte counties. Sponsors of casinos in those counties have withdrawn their requests.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who has been nominated as secretary of Health and Human Services by President Obama, said the proposed cut in education funding was a mistake.

“We must protect our investment in public schools and keep essential services in place for our most vulnerable citizens,” she said in her weekly address. “It would be easy to surrender and let the wave of recession push us back, but we must hold our ground.”

The Kansas Legislative Research Department said the state’s expenses in fiscal 2010 would exceed revenues by $682 million if no changes were made to the fiscal 2009 budget.

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