Archive for Tuesday, March 20, 2012

House budget would cut spending by $600 million

March 20, 2012, 2:00 p.m.

Updated: March 21, 2012, 12:00 a.m.

Topeka — The Kansas House on Monday overwhelmingly approved a $14.1 billion state budget that cuts overall spending by about $600 million, or 4 percent.

House members voted 87-36 on the bill containing the spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The measure now moves to the Senate, which is working out its version of the budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Under the House-approved bill, the House would spend $600 million less than in the current year but expand expenditures by the Legislature by $1 million.

The House legislation also contains a provision to prohibit state employees from being involved in abortions, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. The ban, championed in the House by Rep. Joe Patton, R-Topeka, includes University of Kansas Medical Center physicians-in-training.

Patton’s amendment has raised concern at KUMC that education accreditation could be jeopardized by the limitation.

House members also added $29 million to help K-12 public schools deal with higher-than-expected student enrollment. A House floor amendment restored the school aid by taking $25 million from a Kansas Department of Transportation’s highway program.

Rep. Don Hineman, R-Dighton, who spoke for a bipartisan group of 10 House members, said they considered the budget bill flawed but that they would vote for it.

“We shouldn’t have to choose between adequately funding K-12 and fully supporting KDOT’s T-Works,” he said.

The House bill also provided to community mental health centers $5 million more than the $10 million requested by Brownback and retained a ban enacted last fall by the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services to deny food stamp benefits to some U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants. The Brownback administration changed state policy on the food stamp program to include in eligibility calculations the income of all adults, including undocumented workers.

The measure pushed some families above the maximum monthly net income level to receive the government benefit.

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