Ed Trimmer: Why I voted no on this year’s Kansas budget

first_imgBy Ed Trimmer, Special to Sumner Newscow — On Thursday of last week, the Kansas House passed its update to the 2016 and 2017 budgets.  I voted NO for several reasons.  The budget only leaves a $6 million ending balance for 2016 and if revenues drop again, as they have for the past eight months, we will be in a deficit once again.  This budget does not fix the underlying causes of the revenue shortfall.  Here are some of the highlights or lowlights depending on how you see them.Ed TrimmerThe budget allows the bonding authority for the Kansas Department of Transportation to go from 18 to 19 percent.  While it does cap the Governor’s KDOT bonding authority, the 19 percent would allow for at least another $500 million in highway bonds.The Governor just bonded KDOT for $400 million with an interest only payment for the first ten years, because the state cannot afford to pay on the principle.  The public has been told that the bond money is for new projects, but in reality, there are only previously approved projects in the works and road maintenance has been significantly reduced. Our road contractors have had to go to other states to get resurfacing projects.  The new money is being transferred to the general fund, used to cover past transfers, or fund existing projects.  Covering a debt with an interest-bearing loan, when revenues are falling, is no way to run a business or a state.The bill allows the Governor to defer the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System payments for the third and fourth quarters of 2016.   The Legislature just sold $1 billion worth of bonds for the KPERS system last year.  I voted NO then, in regard to the bonding, and made the argument that the Governor would use the borrowed funds as an excuse not to make the statutory state payment.  I have been proven right because this year’s budget bill does just that.Again, we are using borrowed money to cover a budget deficit without doing anything to solve the root causes of the deficit.The budget gives the Governor unlimited power to make cuts, transfers and sweeps.  Normally most budget changes have to be approved by the Legislature.  The Governor can now change any part of the budget at any time.  Under this policy one might question the need for a legislature.I find it ironic that the Brownback, conservative majority in the legislature is willing to give away much of their power to the Governor and yet complain loudly when the Supreme Court renders a decision about school funding they don’t like, even though it was the state that appealed the case to the Supreme Court.The appropriations committee tried to throw out a few crumbs to specific groups to try to get legislators to vote for the budget or give them bad press if they did not.  The first of these gave certified corrections officers a 2.5% raise.   That may sound good but it is not likely to survive the entire budget process.  The Governor has also talked about using a high deductible insurance system for state workers to save money, so the raise would likely be offset by higher health care costs.Based on all of the bonding debt that has been incurred and budget issues looming in the future, the Governor could just as likely cut that raise from the bill either upon signing or after the election in November.  I supported an amendment to give corrections officers a 5 percent raise and lock box it from a governor’s sweep.  The amendment was defeated.The budget offered a $7.2 million dollar increase to the Parents as First Teachers program, a program that helps parents develop good parenting skills with very young children.  The bill would require parents who participate to be means tested which would limit eligibility and reduce enrollment in the program.In other words, the budget gives money to the program on one hand and takes it away with the other by limiting participation on which funding is based.  It would also pave the way for future cuts to the program instead of an increase.I have only mentioned a few of the problems with the budget bill.  I believe they alone are enough to justify my NO vote.  I believe as a state we can do better.  Since a compromise with the Senate’s budget bill will still have to be reached, the House bill is not the final draft of this year’s budget.Nevertheless, I am concerned about our state going so far into debt without fixing our revenue problem.  I believe our children and our grandchildren will be paying for this kind of budget mismanagement for years to come.Follow us on Twitter. 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Thank you for your input. +5 Vote up Vote down Turkeyleg · 234 weeks ago Sounds like the gov is trying to borrow his way out of debt. This is really no surprise, we really should be talking about how Kansas is going to pay back all this debt once Pastor Sam is gone. The roads will need to be fixed at a higher cost. KPERS will have to be made solvent with higher costs, thats if the republiecons even are going to try or let die. Our credit rating will sink. Just to many bad outcomes caused by these republiecan stooges. You voted for them, now reap the benefits. Report Reply 0 replies · active 234 weeks ago +4 Vote up Vote down I.B. Well · 234 weeks ago Well, if Bernie wins the presidency everything will be alright. All states will be able to hop on a unicorn and get all the money they want from Bernie’s Magical Money Trees. “You voted for them, now reap the benefits.” Remember your words. They may come back to bite you. Report Reply 0 replies · active 234 weeks ago Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Comments by IntenseDebate Enter text right here! Reply as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Cancel Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new commentslast_img

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