TOPEKA | Gov. Sam Brownback said Friday that he would use his constitutional authority to immediately cut $56.5 million in spending in the current Kansas budget.
Brownback said he would have a list of spending reductions ready by the close of the day's business. He said he hopes the cuts will not result in layoffs.
"I wish we didn't have to do this," Brownback said. "It's been difficult, but it's something we need to do."
He declined to give details of what programs would be cut but suggested reimbursement for Medicaid health care services would not be affected.
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Brownback's cuts would get the state budget to zero for the fiscal year, assuming revenue collections through June meet expectations. The constitution gives the governor the authority to impose cuts, but he can only get the budget to zero, not create a cushion.
The governor asked legislators during his Jan. 12 State of the State address to send him a bill that would cut spending and give Kansas $35 million in reserve to carry forward. Those dollars are necessary with the state facing a projected deficit in 2012 of $493 million.
"We must restore fiscal sanity to government," the governor said Friday.
Brownback, a Republican, informed legislative leaders earlier this week that he would take matters into his own hands if negotiators couldn't agree on a bill he requested in January to cut state spending.
However, those talks appeared to break down Thursday evening over differences of how much of a revenue cushion to leave the state heading to the next fiscal year. Negotiators had planned to resume talks Friday and Brownback said any additional cuts they could find yet this year would be helpful.
"I urge them to keep working," Brownback said.
Complicating the negotiations has been a shortfall in special education funding. The state must increase its levels of spending for the program by about $21 million in the current year or face the loss of federal funding in future years. Legislators propose funding the gap by delaying a payment due to the pension fund for teachers and reducing the base aid per pupil that is distributed to the 289 Kansas school districts.
Brownback's original proposal would have cut schools $75 in the current year and an additional $157 in 2012 to balance the state budget. The reduction, in part, is a result of the end of federal stimulus dollars Kansas used in recent years to maintain education spending. Those funds expire in this budget year.