Kansas House votes to cut spending on schools, pay for top officials

The Kansas House voted to reduce state spending on schools this school year and cut the pay of top state workers Tuesday.

The move would eliminate a deficit of $50 million in the current year budget and give lawmakers $37 million in surplus funds to begin addressing next year's $500 million deficit. The proposal, HB 2014, now moves to the Senate, which is already working on its own version of the bill.

Lawmakers called the bill a spending freeze, though it would actually cut funds for schools by $75 per pupil this school year.

It would also cut the pay of top state workers by 7.5 percent for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends June 30. The governor, other elected officials, lawmakers, judges and any employee earning more than $100,000 per year would be affected.

Democrats tried to add funds back in for special education but were stymied by the Republican majority. The final vote on the bill was 81-40, with Democrats and a few Republicans voting no.

Supporters of the cuts argued the state has no alternative but rein in spending after years of declining state revenues.

"We are simply at a point where the chickens have come home to roost," said Rep. Kasha Kelley, an Arkansas City Republican. "It is not pleasant... no one wants to cut any salaries. We need to right the ship. It is our obligation."