DALLAS — Kansas lawmakers will return to Topeka on April 28 to deal with a growing budget shortfall that has worsened since the Legislature recessed in early April to await the latest revenue estimate.
The 15-month revenue forecast adopted on Friday by the Consensus Estimating Group raised the budget gap in fiscal 2011 to $510 million from earlier projections of $450 million.
The panel of legislative budget experts and economists from the three state universities also said there will be a $70 million gap between expenses and revenue in the current fiscal year that must be resolved before fiscal 2010 ends June 30.
Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, said the Republican-controlled Legislature must agree to budget-balancing tax increases, at least in the near term, rather than relying on additional cuts to state agency budgets and programs.
Parkinson said he and his predecessor, Kathleen Sebelius, have slashed more than $1 billion from the state budget over the past two years.
He warned that balancing next year’s budget with more than $500 million of spending cuts would decimate public education, public safety efforts, and social services.
“This hole is too big to fill with additional cuts,” Parkinson said. “Instead, we must implement a temporary solution so that we can create lasting economic recovery. That’s why I reiterate my call for the Legislature to return to Topeka at the end of the month prepared to raise revenue we need to prevent permanent damage to the foundation of our state.”
Parkinson has proposed a package of new and increased taxes that he said would generate $380 million a year.
Usually, the Legislature sends budget measures to the governor before the recess, and then returns to deal with vetoed bills and other business during a short session. However, this year lawmakers decided to wait for the April revenue estimate before developing a proposed budget.
A preliminary fiscal 2011 budget adopted by the Senate Ways and Means Committee reduces spending on state programs by $100 million from fiscal 2010 levels.
Committee chairman Jay Emler, R-Lindborg, said the $13 billion budget would require at least $350 million of additional revenue to be balanced.
The Senate proposal would replace with state funds the $172 million in federal stimulus spending that school districts received in fiscal 2010 but which will not be available next year.
A competing budget proposal from the House Appropriations Committee would not replace the $172 million in lost stimulus funding.
Total revenues for fiscal 2010 are projected at $5.25 billion, down $46.4 million from the November estimate. Tax revenue will be $104.6 million less than expected. Total revenues for fiscal 2011 are estimated at slightly less than $5.1 billion.