Governor Sebelius Signs Budget Bill, Vetoes Several Provisions

By: Jennifer Bocchieri Email
By: Jennifer Bocchieri Email

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Kansas workers hope to make ends meet as the state copes with its budget crisis. State workers were set to not get paid this Friday unless the governor and Kansas Republicans end their stalemate.

State workers have been worried and upset. They say their paychecks have been used as a political pawn.

"I think it's wrong they're using out money as blackmail to get a bill signed," said one worker.

"I do hope the Governor and the legislature will come together up there and we get a paycheck. That's what I really want to see," said another worker.

It all started when Gov. Sebelius asked to borrow $225 million in funds from other accounts to cover a shortage in the state's main bank account.

Republicans balked saying it's not legal and she should sign their budget bill instead. That bill landed on her desk Tuesday afternoon.

"We live paycheck to paycheck, a lot of us, and this is going to hurt a lot of us," said one worker.

Governor Sebelius has met this key demand from Republican leaders and signed the budget bill so they will allow her to take steps to ease a cash crunch. But she vetoed individual provisions in the bill to lessen cuts to public schools. She also vetoed several other items.

Republican leaders said the budget needed to be balanced before they would approve a plan from Sebelius to borrow money internally to shore up the state's main bank account.

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Governor Sebelius Signs Budget Bill, Softens School Funding Cuts

Governor Kathleen Sebelius has signed the 2009 budget bill and vetoed several components, solving the current budget gap and protecting public schools from the drastic cuts proposed by the Kansas House of Representatives.

"While I agree with the Legislature that reducing the 2009 budget by more than $300 million is appropriate, I believe that with so much of the school year already behind us, the cuts proposed to public schools are too deep," Sebelius said. "To provide schools better certainty in the few remaining months of this school year, I am vetoing the cuts to special education and implementing the Senate's bipartisan recommendation of a much lesser rescission to school funding.
"Additionally, because the purpose of a rescission bill is to limit and lower spending, I am also vetoing more than $9 million in spending increases the legislature included in this bill.

"This budget represents deeper cuts than I would have preferred, but we have a shared responsibility to make these difficult decisions and enact a balanced budget. It is now time for the Legislature to turn its focus to 2010, and join me in developing shared solutions to overcome the even greater challenges that lie ahead."

House Substitute for Substitute for Senate Bill No. 23 is the only bill to have been delivered to the governor's desk during the 2009 Legislative Session, which is in its 6th week.

2009 Budget line-item veto messages:

Department of Administration, KPERS Debt Service
Section 37 (t) has been line-item vetoed in its entirety.

Although the Legislature recognized the budgetary savings arising from restructuring several bond issuances, the restructuring of the KPERS bond cannot occur until approved by the State Finance Council. That approval has not yet been given. For this reason, I find it necessary to veto this portion of the bill that lapses the debt service. This will ensure the monies remain in the Department's budget so that the state does not fail to meet its obligations to make debt service payments.

Department of Education, Reductions to Schools
Section 53 (a) and (b) have been line-item vetoed in their entirety.

Drastically reducing state aid to schools, with only three months left in the school year, leaves children, parents and teachers in a needless financial predicament. Similarly, reducing funding for special education services in the middle of the school year is pointlessly punitive to those students in need of additional assistance. The state also must preserve special education funding to ensure we can access federal stimulus funds requiring maintenance of effort in special education spending at the state level.

Through allotment authority, I intend to follow the lead of the bipartisan efforts in the Legislature to reduce school funding by only $33 per pupil, instead of the more severe $66 per pupil as agreed to in conference committee on SB 23.

University of Kansas Medical Center, Wichita Center for Graduate Medical Education
Section 66 (e) has been line-item vetoed in its entirety.

The revised fiscal year 2009 budget already includes $2.5 million in additional funding for the Wichita Center for Graduate Medical Education. I will be asking the Kansas Board of Regents to make a full and comprehensive recommendation for WCGME funding in the FY 2010 budget and look forward to working with the Legislature to act on their proposal.

Health Care Stabilization Fund, Transfer Limitation
Section 86 (b) has been line-item vetoed in its entirety.

With this veto and accompanying allotment, I am restoring my original budget recommendations to limit transfers to the Heath Care Stabilization Fund, helping to preserve State General Fund balances.

Kansas Bioscience Authority, Transfer Limitation
Section 86 (h) has been line-item vetoed in its entirety.

With this veto and accompanying allotment, I am restoring my original budget recommendations to limit transfers to the Kansas Bioscience Authority, helping to preserve State General Fund balances.

2009 Budget allotment message from the Budget Director Duane Goossen to Governor Sebelius:

After considering current revenue information, the FY 2009 approved budget, and other pertinent information, I advise that the use of an allotment plan as provided for in K.S.A. 75-3722 is necessary and beneficial.

By applying this allotment authority to reduce $7,086,242 from the currently approved FY 2009 State General Fund appropriation to the Dept. of Education for General State Aid, a funding level can be achieved that provides $4,400 Base State Aid Per Pupil, and matches the Senate version of SB 23 on this item.

By applying this allotment authority to limit the State General Fund transfer to the Bioscience Authority to not more than $35 million during FY 2009, adequate resources can still be provided to the Authority, while saving still saving resources from the State General Fund.

By applying this allotment authority to suspend any State General Fund transfer to the Health Care Stabilization Fund further State General Fund resources can be conserved.


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