The Kansas state budget picture got a lot smaller today as Gov. Sam Brownback provided his allotment plan that will fill a $278 million budget shortfall. The plan calls for significant cuts to highway fund ($95 million); Kansas Health and Environment ($55 million); and KPERS contributions ($40 million). The governor also made across the board cuts of 4 percent to all cabinet level agencies totaling $78 million. The largest cabinet level agency hit was taken by the Department of Children and Families ($3.98 million). The smallest cut was made to the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office ($880). For the full plan please see http://budget.ks.gov/files/FY2015/Allotment_Letters_Plan--12-09-2014.pdf.
It is important to note that some of these cuts need the approval of the legislature while others can be made now. These issues should come up very early in 2015.
The most interesting cut maybe the $40 million from KPERS employer contributions. Throughout the election cycle many have said that KPERS funding should be counted into the K-12 school funding formula. An argument can now be made that this allotment cut K-12 funding because the state will not make $40 million in KPERS payments. It will be interesting to see if this narrative carries forward when the K-12 Commission meets next Monday.
The Kansas Judicial Branch budget is in similar poor shape. Last month the KBA Legislative Committee was provided an update on the current fiscal position of the Judicial Branch. Last year’s judicial budget bill provided supplemental aid to the courts amounting to $8.2 million; however, only $2 million was from the state general fund. The remaining $6.2 million was from new or increased filing fees/surcharge fees. The 2014 budget bill provided the following:
|State General Funds (SGF)|
Increase in filing fees (projected)
Increase in DUI reinstatement (projected)
SGF judicial savings and delaying of filling opening (predicted)
The original supplemental request was for $8.2 million and the 2014 budget bill appears to cover that request. However, when reviewing the proposal the $8.2 million was requested to fund base operating expenses. In addition, $4.6 million of the $10.2 million was earmarked for system improvements. These additions were not part of the $8.2 million request. As such, only $5.6 million ($10.2 million minus $4.6 million) was available for base operating expenses. This left a $2.6 million shortage.
With an additional $4 million shortage from revenue shortfalls (summary judgment motions, less traffic fees, etc. …), the court is projected to be $6.6 million underfunded. The court has identified $3 million in savings from a reduction in personnel expenditures, which leave a balance of $3.6 million. The court plans to seek a supplemental appropriation of $3.6 million when the legislature reconvenes in January. Should the legislature fail to appropriate these funds the court may be forced to furlough employees up to three weeks ($250,000 per day).
Look for legislation allowing funds earmarked for e-filing to be used for court operations, as well as legislation to allow for electronic recording devise and video conferencing. The court will be looking at similar efficiencies to reduce the shortfall as much as possible to avoid long furloughs.