Kansas City, MO – Kansas' governor Mark Parkinson said Wednesday that he's prepared to make additional spending cuts this year to keep the state's budget balanced, and key legislators predicted he'll be forced to further trim aid to public schools.
Parkinson wouldn't speculate during a news conference about what steps he'll take to close any projected deficit for the fiscal year that began July 1. But he said he won't leave the job of closing a shortfall to legislators when they reconvene in January.
More than half of Kansas' general tax revenues, nearly $3 billion under the current budget, go to the state's 293 school districts as aid. The Republican chairmen of the House and Senate budget committees said they don't believe the Democratic governor can make additional cuts without touching education spending.
The state has seen four rounds of cuts and other adjustments this year to keep the budget balanced, and the last revisions were imposed by Parkinson in July. Public schools have lost $130 million, and their base aid per student dropped by $215, or 4.8 percent.
Kansas law allows Parkinson to impose cuts when legislators are out of session, as they have been since early June. But he also could wait until legislators reconvene, then have them debate budget revisions. His predecessor, Democrat Kathleen Sebelius, did that in 2008 and 2009.
"When the Legislature comes back, this budget will be in balance," Parkinson said during a Statehouse news conference. "I will make the decisions, and I'll take the responsibility."