TOPEKA – The House kicked off debate Wednesday on a bill making cuts to the 2010 budget by approving a 5 percent pay cut for elected officials.
The reduction, which would save a little more than $1.5 million, would apply to lawmakers, cabinet secretaries and people that are named directly in statute, said Rep. Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls.
"This is small step but this sends the message clearly to the public that we are serious. We are going to cut our pay and cut all our elected officials’ pay," he said
The measure, Senate substitute for House Bill 2222, includes cuts to the current budget proposed by Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson; the cuts still need legislative action.
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It also includes some small boosts such as $5 million more for the Judicial Department, which will help fend off almost 24 days of furloughs for court employees, said House Appropriations Chairman Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Overland Park.
The bill also cuts payments to Medicaid providers such as doctors, nursing homes and hospitals, by 10 percent.
An amendment by Rep. Mario Goico, R-Wichita, to restore the cuts failed on a voice vote.
The Senate passed the bill two weeks ago with minimal changes.
Yoder praised the governor's work on the cuts and called it a "good first step."
Approving cuts to the 2010 budget, which ends June 30, will allow lawmakers to focus on next year's budget, he said.
Lawmakers already know they need to fill a $400 million shortfall in the 2011 budget – and the revenue picture is getting worse, Yoder said. Since the November consensus revenue estimates, which the budget is based on, money coming into the state is running $40 million behind anticipated revenues.
"I don't think we will have a problem with too much money on hand," Yoder said.
The House is debating the bill now. Check back for updates.