Brownback’s 1st Version of Budget Trimming Draws GOP Heat

AP) – Two GOP leaders in the Kansas Senate are criticizing Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan for eliminating a projected $279 million shortfall in the current state budget.

Brownback’s plan would trim spending and divert funds for public pensions to general government programs. His administration unveiled it Tuesday.
Budget Director Shawn Sullivan outlined the proposal Tuesday in interviews with reporters. The plan avoids cutting aid to public schools and the state’s Medicaid program for the needy.

The governor can make some spending cuts himself but needs the Legislature’s approval for some parts of his plan.

Those parts include diverting nearly $96 million in funds for highway projects to general government programs.

The plan would eliminate a projected $279 million shortfall in the budget for the fiscal year that began in July. The state still would face a $436 million shortfall for the next fiscal year.

Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita said the governor is picking winners and losers by being selective in cutting. She said she prefers to see the burden of closing the budget shortfall spread evenly.

Senate Vice President Jeff King of Independence criticized the plan for diverting $41 million in contributions to the state pension system. King is chairman of the Senate pensions committee.

King said the plan threatens to undo gains made in recent years to improve the pension system’s long-term financial health.

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