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Brownback signs $14.6 billion Kansas budget bill

  • Eagle Topeka bureau
  • Published Friday, May 16, 2014, at 2:04 p.m.
  • Updated Friday, May 16, 2014, at 8:25 p.m.

— Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a $14.6 billion budget after vetoing the sweep of $5 million in funding from early childhood programs to the Kansas Bioscience Authority.

The governor vetoed the transfer of money from the Kansas Endowment for Youth Fund.

The fund is made up of payments from the state’s tobacco settlement and is meant to store money to be used for early childhood programs in the future, as the yearly paymet from the settlement begins to decline. But money has been shifted from the fund in recent years to pay for other programs.

Child advocates pressed Brownback to halt the transfer of funds to the Bioscience Authority.

“The Kansas Endowment for Youth Fund was specifically established to hold and draw interest upon excess tobacco settlement revenues so that such funds could later be used for early childhood programs,” the governor said in a statement.

“The $5 million in question in this section should remain available for such purposes in the future, so I therefore veto the transfer,” he said.

The Bioscience Authority still will receive $32 million in state funding; $5 million will come from state reserves instead of from the early childhood fund. The money will be used to invest in growing the bioscience sector in Kansas.

Shannon Costoradis, president of Kansas Action For Children, praised the governor’s decision.

“The governor’s action today will contribute toward his goals of reducing childhood poverty and increasing fourth-grade reading proficiency,” Cotsoradis said in a statement. “Early education programs give Kansas kids the skills they need to succeed in school and later in the workforce. The governor responded to pressure from advocates, educators and parents to reverse this sweep and to invest in Kansas children.”

His decision to sign the revised budget also ensures that the Department of Corrections will be able to continue to operate when fiscal year 2015 starts in July. He vetoed the 2015 Corrections budget passed by the Legislature last year.

“I want to thank every member of the Kansas Legislature for their hard work during the 2014 session,” Brownback said.

“This two-year supplemental budget will continue to fund the core services of state government to July 1, 2015,” he said. “I am particularly pleased this bill includes a significantly improved budget for the Department of Corrections and demonstrates our commitment to these essential public safety programs.”

Reach Bryan Lowry at 785-296-3006 or blowry@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BryanLowry3.

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