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Kansas Policy Institute on Kansas budget

From Kansas Policy Institute.

KPI on Budget: Spending Records Still Being Set, Savings Good, but Still Room For More

January 15, 2015 — Wichita — Dave Trabert, president of Kansas Policy Institute, offered the following statement in response to the release of Gov. Brownback’s most recent budget:

On spending: “We’re very encouraged by the proposed spending reductions from this year’s record-setting level. Some may decry the changes but it should be noted that FY 2016 and FY 2017 will still be higher than any year prior to the current year. And there is still room for improvement. Proposed FY 2017 spending will be $547 million greater than if 2004 spending is adjusted for inflation.”

On KPERS: “Taking out new debt via bonds for KPERS is a non-starter unless it is explicitly tied to a larger reform of a 401(k)-style system for future government employees. This “defined contribution” plan would likely provide a better benefit for retirees, free taxpayers from the burden of pension debt, and honor the promises our state has made to those already in KPERS – maybe even allowing for COLAs in the future.”

Below is Trabert’s statement in regards to yesterday’s State of the State address:

Overall Impressions: “Governing is solely about choices. Gov. Brownback made some good choices in his speech tonight and offered some that leave us with questions. Kansas is in this budget situation because of a choice made years ago — reforming taxes without cutting spending. Until we choose to deliver better government service at a better price we’ll be left with some of the false choices we’ve already seen bubble up in the legislature this year. It won’t be easy, but Gov. Brownback laid out some items this evening that move us in the right direction.”

On Taxes: “The governor is to be applauded for adhering to the key elements of Kansas’ new tax structure but we look forward to seeing more details in the days ahead. Before asking Kansans to give more money to government, the governor should push for more cost reductions and the use of unnecessary carryover cash reserves. It’s clear that Kansas does not have a revenue problem as 2014 tax revenue outpaced the growth of inflation over the past decade.”

On K-12 Finance: “A new, student-focused funding formula is long overdue and if block-granting K-12 funding is a bridge to a longer-term solution then we believe it is a step in the right direction. The current formula funds districts rather than students and is providing more money than is needed to efficiently operate schools. It is based on an old cost study that was deliberately skewed to produce inflated numbers and it is well-established that schools are not operating efficiently.”