Kan. House Speaker Ray Merrick

DALLAS — Kansas revenues fell $47 million short of expectations in January as the state Legislature convened with plans to close a nearly $300 budget shortfall in the current fiscal year.

Based on estimates of revenue in November, the state was expected to collect $560 million. The total came in 8.4% below that at $513 million, according to Kansas Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan, who attributed some of the shortfall to earlier refunds on state income taxes.

"We are glad that Kansas taxpayers are getting their refund checks earlier than last year," Jordan said. "Unfortunately, that negatively affects our tax receipts for this month."

The Department of Revenue said it refunded $30 million to about 65,000 people in January, compared to $8 million refunded to about 13,000 people in January 2014.

The Republican-controlled Legislature must cut funding or find additional revenue to cover a $279 million shortfall in the current budget that runs through June 30.

House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stillwell, said the House Appropriations Committee would adapt the budget to cover the shortfall.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is proposing a combination of spending cuts, increases in alcohol and tobacco taxes and delays in pending income tax cuts to balance the budget.

If lawmakers don't pass a budget-balancing bill by Feb. 13, the state may not be able to pay its bills on time, according to Brownback's office.

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