DALLAS — Kansas legislative negotiators reached agreement late Wednesday on a $14 billion budget for fiscal 2012 that reduces the per-pupil state aid stipend for Kansas’ 289 local school districts.
The spending plan adopts the reduction in base state aid to $3,780 per student from the current $4,012 that was recommended in January by Gov. Sam Brownback. The original House plan called for funding at $3,762 per pupil, with the Senate version setting per-pupil funding at $3,786.
Total state aid is pushed to $4,743 per pupil in fiscal 2012 through special education programs and contributions by the state to local teacher pension plans.
Total spending is reduced by 5% to 6% from fiscal 2011 appropriations, but general fund spending is increased by 6% to $6.07 billion from $5.7 billion in the current budget. The official state revenue forecast expects collections to increase in 2012.
If revenues match expectations in the coming fiscal year, the proposed budget would provide a $50 million surplus at the end of fiscal 2012.
The 90-day legislative session was to have ended Thursday, but it probably will be extended through Saturday to adopt the budget plan approved by the conference committee of three senators and three representatives.
Republicans hold 32 seats in the 40-member Senate and 92 seats in the 125-member House.
The budget includes the Senate’s compromise proposal for $34 million of bonds to complete the next phase of renovations to the Statehouse. The bonds would be the 11th tranche issued for the project since 2001 by the Kansas Development Finance Authority.
The Senate had originally sought $55 million of bonds for the renovation effort. The Statehouse bonds are rated AA by Standard & Poor’s and Aa2 by Moody’s Investors Service.
Brownback, who participated in the budget negotiations, praised the proposal that eliminates a potential $500 million revenue shortfall next year. He called it “a victory for Kansas.”
“It cuts spending while prioritizing core functions of government and sets the stage for a return to private-sector growth,” Brownback said.
Senate Vice President John Vratil, R-Leawood, said lawmakers fundamentally altered the state’s budget-writing process with strategic spending cuts. Vratil was one of the three senators on the budget conference committee.
“It’s not funny money or accounting tricks,” Vratil said. “It’s real cuts of real money.”
Brownback is expected to use his line-item veto power to remove from the budget bill $689,000 for the Kansas Arts Commission, which he wants to replace with a private foundation, and $1.5 million for public broadcasting stations.
Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag said eliminating the arts commission is a cost-savings move. The commission staff was laid off this week by state officials.
“Our state is in a very tight fiscal situation and we’ve got to set priorities and sometimes hard decisions have to be made,” she said.